Trump Team Mulls New Iran Penalties After Tehran Warns Against Extension of Sanctions

Washington's extension of the Iran Sanctions Act violates the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran says, as president-elect's transition team discusses new sanctions against Islamic Republic.

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the first stop of his post-election tour in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.
John Minchillo, AP

Donald Trump's transition team is examining proposals for new non-nuclear sanctions on Iran, the Financial Times reported on Friday, after Tehran slammed the U.S. Senate's vote on Thursday to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years.

The ISA was adopted to punish investments in Iran's energy industry and deter its pursuit of nuclear weapons. On Thursday, Iran said its extension violated the 2015 deal with six major powers that curbed its nuclear program and threatened to retaliate.

Officials with Trump's team have been in touch with fellow Republicans in Congress, where they hold the majority, to discuss possible sanctions separate from the nuclear deal that could focus on its ballistic missile program or human rights, congressional sources who have been in contact with the president-elect's team told the FT. 

"They (Trump team members) are already looking closely at their options - and that very much includes non-nuclear sanctions," a congressional official told the media outlet.

On the campaign trail, Trump, who takes office on January 20, vowed to tear up the agreement with Iran and negotiate a better one.

An Iranian demonstrator holds an anti-U.S. placard during an annual rally in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 2015.
Vahid Salemi, AP

The extension of sanctions passed on Thursday now goes to the White House for U.S. President Barack Obama to sign into law. That would delay potentially tougher actions until next year. 

Several Republican U.S. lawmakers already have introduced proposals for additional sanctions on Iran separate from the nuclear pact or plan to do so. 

"The big difference next year is that we will go from a White House that did everything it could to block these bills to a White House that will be in favor and maybe even sponsor some of these proposals," a congressional source told the Financial Times. 

Iran's most powerful authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei already said in November any extension would breach the nuclear deal and threatened retaliation.

"The extension of sanctions by the U.S. Congress is a violation of the deal. We will report it to Iran's committee, assigned for monitoring the implementation of the deal," state TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying on Friday.

Ghasemi, echoing Khamenei's stance, did not say what action Iran would take, but said in comments reported by state news agency IRNA: "Iran has shown its commitment to its international agreements, but we are also prepared for any possible scenario. We are ready to firmly protect the nation's rights under any circumstances."