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U.S. Treasury Secretary Warns Of 'Very Strong' Sanctions On Iran


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 11.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has signaled that the United States may impose "very strong" sanctions on Iran as President Donald Trump seeks to address what he called the "disastrous flaws" in the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Mnuchin, testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee, said on April 11 that the measures would include sanctions against both Iran and entities that do business with the country.

He said he believed such sanctions would have “a very strong impact" on the Iranian economy.

Trump has set a May 12 deadline to either improve or scrap the accord, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama. The deal granted Iran relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy in exchange for limits on its nuclear activity.

Following the hearing, Mnuchin told reporters that the U.S. administration was considering both a fresh round of sanctions and the return of previous sanctions that have been periodically waived as part of the nuclear accord.

Trump "is very concerned about Iran's behavior" and "wants to have a better deal," Mnuchin told U.S. lawmakers.

He also said that the Trump administration was in talks with U.S. allies and would "not do anything abruptly."

The U.S. president accuses Tehran of violating the spirit of the nuclear deal and called on European powers to "fix" what he says are the "terrible flaws" of the agreement. He wants new restrictions to be imposed on Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

France, Britain, and Germany – which are also signatories to the nuclear agreement, along with Russia and China -- are seeking to persuade their EU partners to back new sanctions on Iran, mainly on its missile program, in hopes of persuading Trump not to pull the United States out.

EU foreign ministers were set to meet in Luxembourg on April 16 to discuss the issue.

New EU measures against Iran could possible hit the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, but sources who were not authorized to speak on the record told RFE/RL that some member states, including Austria, Italy, and Sweden, remain reluctant to agree on new sanctions.

On April 9, Iranian President Hassan Rohani warned that Washington "will regret it" if the United States violates the accord.

"We are much more prepared than they think, and they will see that if they violate this accord, within a week, less than a week, they will see the result," Rohani said.

With reporting by Bloomberg and Reuters
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