USA sanctions Iran supreme leader; plans to designate foreign minister

The U.S. says Iran is behind attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz

"Trump's desperate administration is destroying the established worldwide mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security", Mousavi tweeted.

"The Supreme Leader of Iran is the one who is ultimately responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime", Mr Trump said.

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.

The crisis gripping the Middle East is rooted in Trump withdrawing the USA a year ago from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran. "That is when you believe all options are at an end", Smith told Reuters.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim and Fars news agencies said America had imposed new sanctions on Iran "based on fabricated excuses".

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programs and its activities in the region.

Mousavi's statement echoed that of Iran's United Nations ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, who warned on Monday that the situation in the Persian Gulf is "very dangerous" and said any talks with the USA are impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation.

The U.S. decision is another indication it "has no respect for worldwide law and order", he said. Laya Joneydi, Iran's vice president for legal affairs, said that all sides must attempt to avoid an escalation of the conflict as she announced the legal action.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that he was seeking to build a "global coalition" against Iran, branding Tehran "the world's largest state sponsor of terror".

"Zarif is a career diplomat who lived in the US".

The latest round of sanctions denies Khamenei and senior Iranian military figures access to financial resources and blocks their access to any financial assets they have under USA jurisdiction.

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"The White House is afflicted by mental retardation and does not know what to do", Rouhani added. Iran has maintained that its oil exports have been largely unaffected despite United States pressure.

The strikes were reportedly called off 10 minutes before they were to be carried out on Thursday after Mr Trump was told 150 people could die.

Iran also denied cyber-attacks launched by the U.S. on its rocket launch systems had not hit their mark.

Washington said it would also impose sanctions on Iran's foreign minister Zarif this week.

Tehran has always been in a "campaign of aggression" against its Arab neighbours, the United States and Israel, Netanyahu said, and recent tensions were not a result of increasing U.S. pressures.

"We've got concerns about the sanctions against Iran, [but] we are seeing a better demand picture because of the actions of central banks, which is benefiting all commodities. and we have got a weaker United States dollar", McCarthy said.

The sanctions follow Iran's downing of a USA surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran denies responsibility for the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf. On Monday, the United States said it was building a coalition with allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

"We look forward to a time in releasing sanctions, if they're willing to negotiate", the secretary said.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured Saudi Arabia and the UAE discussing maritime security, while US special representative to Iran Brian Hook proposed an enhanced multinational maritime force.

"Freedom of navigation is paramount", he added. But, I felt that we want to give this a chance, give it a good chance, because I think Iran potentially has a phenomenal future'.

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