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Esper Says New Sanctions on Iran Will Disrupt Malign Activities

Gerald Scroop

September 21, 2020

President Donald J. Trump today signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Iran as well as triggering a "snap back," or resumption, of U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said that today's executive order will further disrupt Iranian efforts to import and proliferate conventional weapons, helping protect U.S. forces, allies and partners and civilian populations until Iran complies with international norms.

Our commanders have the authorities and resources they need to protect their troops and to prepare for any contingencies and we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners to counter Iran's destabilizing behavior."

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper

Esper spoke to the media today from the State Department, along with State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft and National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien.

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"We encourage Tehran to cease its malign activities throughout the region and to act like a normal country," Esper said. "But we are also prepared to respond to Iranian aggression."

"Our commanders have the authorities and resources they need to protect their troops and to prepare for any contingencies and we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners to counter Iran's destabilizing behavior," he continued.

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The secretary noted that over the past two years, Iran has carried out attacks on international shipping, regional infrastructure and U.S. and partner nation forces, including missile strikes by Iranian-backed proxy militias against U.S. bases and personnel in Iraq. 

Iran has violated U.N. Security Council resolutions for years by proliferating advanced, conventional weapons to non-state actors such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, who use them to threaten civilian population centers, he said.

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That is why the Defense Department has taken decisive action to safeguard service members, restore deterrence and safeguard international rules and norms when it comes to issues such as freedom of navigation and commerce, he explained.

"We stand ready to respond to future Iranian aggression and we remain committed to doing our part in the administration's maximum pressure campaign," Esper said, noting that the U.S. military maintains a high state of alert, makes continual adjustments to its operational forces in the region as needed and works closely with intelligence agencies, allies and partners.

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