Updated Apr 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

U.S. to hit Iran with fresh sanctions after Israel attack

Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Monday, March 18, 2024.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House last month. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new sanctions on Iran's missile and drone program after the country's unprecedented attack on Israel over the weekend, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan announced Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: President Biden is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise military restraint. But in the economic sphere, the administration is demonstrating a willingness to retaliate against Iran.

  • These new sanctions and other ones Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is preparing represent a subtle message to Israel that there is more than one way to harm the ruling regime in Tehran.

Driving the news: Sullivan said in a statement that Biden is working in coordination with international partners including G7 nations and bipartisan leaders in Congress on a comprehensive response to Iran's attack.

  • U.S. defense agencies are working on strengthening air and missile defense and early warning systems across the Middle East.
  • The new sanctions will also target entities supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran's Defense Ministry. "We anticipate that our allies and partners will soon be following with their own sanctions," Sullivan said.
  • Meanwhile, Yellen vowed that the U.S. "will not hesitate" to inflict economic punishment in response to Iran's attack.

What's next: Yellen will press fellow finance ministers — visiting D.C. for the annual spring IMF meetings this week — to focus their governments on possible sanctions work with the U.S. on coordinated actions.

  • "Treasury will not hesitate to work with our allies to use our sanctions authority to continue disrupting the Iranian regime's malign and destabilizing activity," Yellen is prepared to say Tuesday during her opening remarks at a press conference.
  • "The attack by Iran and its proxies underscores the importance of Treasury's work to use our economic tools to counter Iran's malign activity," she will say, according to a copy of her remarks obtained by Axios.
  • The G7 is also considering sanctions with the goal of isolating Iran internationally and increasing economic pressure on the regime, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.
  • "We now have a unified alliance of partners," he said. "That wasn't Iran's intent."

Flashback: Days after Hamas Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the Biden administration announced new sanctions against Hamas leaders and financial facilitators.

Zoom out: Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for not doing more to check the aggression of Iran and Iranian-backed forces throughout the Middle East.

  • Biden's warning to Netanyahu to temper any possible Israeli counterattack against Iran was hit with a barrage of criticism Sunday, including from some Democrats.
  • Last September, Republicans pilloried the president for releasing some $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue as part of a hostage swap deal.
  • In January, after a pro-Iranian militia killed three U.S. service members in Jordan, some GOP lawmakers called for attacks on targets inside of Iran.
  • Instead, Biden ordered strikes against Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria.

Zoom in: House Republicans have scheduled more than a dozen votes for this week on bills sanctioning Iran and its proxies in retaliation for last weekend's wide-ranging drone and missile attack on Israel.

Go deeper: Blinken: Escalation with Iran is not in U.S. or Israel's interests

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the White House national security adviser's announcement.

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