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White House announces new sanctions on Iran following attack against Israel: ‘The pressure will continue’

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White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan released a statement Tuesday announcing that new sanctions will be placed against Iran in the wake of the regime’s attacks against Israel last weekend.

The new sanctions come amid Republican criticism of the Biden administration for purportedly not being tough enough on Iran, after the White House extended a waiver that allowed Iran to access to $10 billion of previously escrowed funds in November 2023.

In a press release, Sullivan announced that President Biden is “coordinating with allies and partners, including the G7, and with bipartisan leaders in Congress, on a comprehensive response.”

“In the coming days, the United States will impose new sanctions targeting Iran, including its missile and drone program as well as new sanctions against entities supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Defense Ministry,” the statement read. 

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Sullivan speaks at White House daily briefing

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 18, 2024.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“In addition, we continue to work through the Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command to further strengthen and expand the successful integration of air and missile defense and early warning systems across the Middle East to further erode the effectiveness of Iran’s missile and UAV capabilities.”

Sullivan said that the actions the U.S. is taking will “continue a steady drumbeat of pressure to contain and degrade Iran’s military capacity and effectiveness and confront the full range of its problematic behaviors.”

“Over the last three years, in addition to missile and drone-related sanctions, the United States has sanctioned over 600 individuals and entities connected to terrorism, terrorist financing and other forms of illicit trade, horrific human rights abuses, and support for proxy terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Kataib Hezbollah,” the statement added.

“The pressure will continue. We will not hesitate to continue to take action, in coordination with allies and partners around the world, and with Congress, to hold the Iranian government accountable for its malicious and destabilizing actions.”

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Biden split screen with Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for purportedly not being tough enough on Iran, particular after a controversial waiver extension. (Photo by Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images,Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration has been heavily criticized by Republicans over its treatment of Iran over the past three years. In addition to the November 2023 waiver extension, the White House also unlocked $6 billion in sanctions relief for Iran as part of a prisoner swap deal in September 2023 – mere weeks before the October 7 attacks. 

“Under President Trump, Iran was broke,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said on X Saturday. “President Biden gifted them billions of dollars and then naively said ‘don’t.’”

“‘Don’t’ is not a foreign policy. Joe Biden’s policies have funded Iran’s attack on Israel,” Blackburn continued.

In October, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby maintained to Fox News that the Iranian regime has had no access to any of the unfrozen funds.

“It’s not that we’re not enforcing sanctions. We have been enforcing them. As a matter of fact, we’ve added sanctions. We’ve sanctioned 400 entities in Iran just in the beginning of this administration, let alone the sanctions that came before us,” Kirby explained.

Pro-Iranian supporters

Iranian pro-government supporters hold a giant Palestine flag at Palestine Square in Tehran, on April 14, 2024, in a celebration of the early morning Iran’s IRGC attack on Israel. (Photo by Hossein Beris / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP)

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“As for the fungibility, again, that money was never going to be tapped by the Iranian regime,” he continued. “They were never going to see it themselves. It was always going to go to vendors that we approved to go to buy humanitarian assistance and medical and food… directly to the Iranian people. The regime was never going to see that or feel that, and they haven’t asked for it.”

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