The Trump administration announced new sanctions on Iran Friday, while offering new explanations behind the killing of an Iranian general – a pivotal move in a series of escalating actions that nearly brought the two nations to the brink of war.
“The president has been very clear: we will continue to apply economic sanctions until Iran stops its terrorist activities and commit that it will never have nuclear weapons,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
The new penalties affect segments of Iranian industry, including construction, manufacturing, textiles, mining, steel and iron. Other sanctions target specific Iranian officials.
While announcing the sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also altered his explanation of why the U.S. launched the deadly drone attack on Qasem Soleimani, a powerful Iranian general.
Pompeo and other Trump administration have given conflicting statements about how “imminent” the threat was from Soleimani – a critical question because it undergirds the administration’s legal justification for killing the Iranian general without notifying Congress.
Hours after the U.S. strike, Pompeo told CNN the Iranian general was planning an “imminent” attack, one that “would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.”
On Wednesday, however, Pompeo seemed to step back from that claim, citing Soleimani’s history of attacks on Americans as justification for the attack. On Thursday, he seemed to retreat even further, telling Fox News that “we don’t know precisely when and we don’t know precisely where, but it was real.”