US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order, which he said, will impose "hard-hitting" sanctions on Iran and deny the Iranian Supreme Leader and other officials access to financial instruments within US jurisdiction.
Trump's move to impose a fresh set of sanctions on Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a string of military commanders comes days after Tehran said it shot down an American drone in the region on Thursday.
President Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike Friday, saying the response would not have been "proportionate".
"We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country," Trump said in a brief interaction with reporters at his Oval Office here.
"I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon," he said.
Trump said that the executive order signed by him will impose "hard hitting" sanction on Iran and it will deny the Iranian Supreme Leader and other officials access to financial instruments.
He signed the order in presence of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us but that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future," Trump said.
"We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran. Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon," he said.
When asked if his executive order was in response to the Iranian attack on US drone, Trump replied "you could probably add that into this" but then said, "this was something that was going to happen anyway."
"I know many Iranians living in New York, and they're fantastic people," Trump said in response to a question.
The President's order will deny Iran's leadership access to financial resources and authorises the targeting of persons appointed to certain official or other positions by the Supreme Leader or the Supreme Leader's Office.
Moreover, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant financial transaction for entities designated under this Executive Order could be cut off from the US financial system.
Trump signed the order in the presence of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us but that doesn't mean we're going to show it in the future," the President said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that "thia action was taken as part of the administration's maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime which has engaged in 40 years of terror and aggression against the United States and our allies. Most recently, it targeted a US unmanned aircraft and executed attacks on international shipping".
The Supreme Leader's Office has enriched itself at the expense of the Iranian people. It sits atop a vast network of tyranny and corruption that deprives the Iranian people of the freedom and opportunity they deserve, he said.
"Today's action denies Iran's leadership the financial resources to spread terror and oppress the Iranian people.
"The only path forward is for Iran to negotiate a comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of its destabilising behaviours. Until it does, our campaign of diplomatic isolation and maximum economic pressure will continue. When the Iranian regime decides to forgo violence and meet our diplomacy with diplomacy, it knows how to reach us," Pompeo said.
Giving details of fresh sanctions, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told reporters at a White House news conference that it includes actions against eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
"The United States is targeting those responsible for effectuating the Iranian regime's destructive influence in the Middle East. IRGC commanders are responsible for the Iranian regime's provocative attacks orchestrated in internationally recognised waters and airspace, as well as Iran's malign activities in Syria.
"Treasury will continue to aggressively target the senior leaders and the financial apparatus sustaining this malign activity. This action is a warning to officials at all levels of the IRGC and the rest of the Iranian regime that we will continue to sanction those who export violence, sabotage and terrorism," Mnuchin said.