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Report: U.S. To Impose Sanctions On Dozens Of Targets Tied To Iran Weapons

An Iranian missile is launched from an undisclosed location on August 20.

The United States on September 21 will sanction more than two dozen people and entities involved in Iran's nuclear, missile, and conventional weapons programs, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.

The United States on September 19 unilaterally reimposed all UN sanctions against Iran, despite opposition from some of Washington’s closest European allies and uncertainty over their impact.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the so-called snapback of UN sanctions on Iran, threatening U.S. action against any violators.

Speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, the official said Iran could have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year and that Tehran has resumed long-range missile cooperation with nuclear-armed North Korea.

The official did not provide detailed evidence regarding either allegation.

Pompeo has said that in case UN member states “fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity.”

The new sanctions put European allies, China, and Russia on notice that while their inclination may be to ignore the U.S. drive to maintain the UN sanctions on Iran, companies based in their nations would be punished for violating them.

An important part of the new U.S. sanctions is an executive order targeting those who buy or sell Iran conventional arms that will also be unveiled by the Trump administration on September 21, the official said.

The punitive measures to be announced on September 21 are the latest in a series seeking to curb Iran's nuclear program, which U.S. ally Israel views as an existential threat.

"Iran is clearly doing everything it can to keep in existence a virtual turnkey capability to get back into the weaponization business at a moment's notice should it choose to do so," the U.S. official told Reuters.

The official maintained that Tehran wants a nuclear weapons capability and the means to deliver it despite a landmark 2015 deal with world powers that sought restraining Iran's atomic program in return for easing international sanctions.

In May 2018, Trump withdrew from the deal and restored U.S. sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy. The other parties -- Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia -- remained in the deal.

Iran, in turn, has gradually breached the conditions of the deal, including on the size of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium as well as the level of purity to which it was allowed to enrich uranium, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Because of Iran's provocative nuclear escalation, it could have sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of this year," the official said without elaborating except to say this was based on "the totality" of information available to the United States, including from the IAEA.

With reporting by Reuters
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