Earlier today, Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced new sanctions against nine American individuals and entities for sponsoring terrorism or action against Iran’s national security. The move was a response to the latest U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s missile program. A Foreign Ministry statement said the latest U.S. Treasury sanctions were an attempt to “downplay the positive outcomes” of the Trump administration’s waiver of anti-Iran sanctions as required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - the nuclear agreement Tehran signed with world powers in 2015. “The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns the US government’s bad will (and) attempts to reduce the positive impacts of carrying out its (US) JCPOA-required commitments by adding legal and natural personalities to its (US) list of foreign, unilateral and illegal sanctions, and considers that as unacceptable and in breach of the international law,” the statement added.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also emphasized that Tehran would not halt its missile program under pressure – arguing that the nuclear agreement or the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 do not prohibit Iran from missile development activity.

According to the statement, the nine entities “have a proven record of brazen violation of human rights and international humanitarian law by engagement or direct and indirect aid and abet in the Zionist regime’s anti-human crimes in the occupied Palestine or in that regime’s terrorist measures, of involvement or aid and abet in sponsoring Takfiri terrorism and suppression of people of the (Middle East) region, or of effective engagement in measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s national security.”

Comment: The tit-for-tat move by the Iranian government has little, if any, impact on the American individuals and companies that are designated. American firms do not operate inside Iran so there is no risks of their assets being seized by the Iranian government. American arms manufactures are already barred from doing business with Iran as part of existing unilateral U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic. And although most nuclear-related sanctions on Iran have been lifted, U.S. companies have been reluctant to do business with Iran. Thus, the move by the Rouhani government is more a symbolic measure aimed at placating Iranian hardliners and project strength just a day before the presidential elections. President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking reelection in tomorrow’s vote, has been under fire by his conservative rival Ibrahim Raisi for not standing up to the West.

In a similarly retaliatory action in March, Iran blacklisted 15 American companies in response to new sanctions by the Trump administration targeting the Iranian missile program. An Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said at the time that the move was “a reciprocal action by the Islamic Republic of Iran to sanction American companies that have played a role in crimes committed by the Zionist regime [Israel], support terrorism and participate in the suppression of people in the region.” The statement added “any transactions with these companies and institutions are prohibited, and their assets within the reach of the Islamic Republic of Iran are subject to confiscation.” The Foreign Ministry did not clarify whether Iran will sanction third parties – such as European and Asian companies – that do business with the named American firms.

Separately, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission warned that the Islamic Republic would designate the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency as terrorist entities if Washington blacklisted the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.).