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Trump ratchets up pressure on Iran with sanctions on exports of steel, copper and other metals

Trump said Wednesday that Tehran "can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct."

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered new sanctions placed on Iranian metals, Tehran's largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue.

It is the administration's latest effort to pressure the regime over its support for weapons proliferation and extremist groups in the Middle East.

"Today's action targets Iran's revenue from the export of industrial metals — 10 percent of its export economy — and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated," Trump said in a statement about the sanctions.

Trump added that Tehran "can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct" and said that he looks forward to "meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves."

Wednesday's executive order targets Iranian iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors in hopes of denying the Iranian government the ability to "provide funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion," according to Trump. "It remains the policy of the United States to deny Iran all paths to both a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and to counter the totality of Iran's malign influence in the Middle East."

The Trump administration also took aim at Iranian oil by effectively ordering countries worldwide to stop buying Tehran's oil or face sanctions of their own.

Brian Hook, the State Department's Iran special envoy, said Wednesday during a briefing that the U.S. would not grant sanction waivers to any countries buying Iranian oil.

The latest revelation comes hours after Tehran announced it was relaxing some restrictions on its nuclear program but would not violate a 2015 accord with Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

Iran had agreed to the 2015 limits on its disputed nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. A year ago Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, calling it a "horrible, one-sided" deal.

Tension between Washington and Tehran has escalated in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of Trump's withdrawal from the agreement.

The U.S. designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. Iran responded with threats to close the Gulf's Strait of Hormuz, where about a third of the world's oil export vessels pass. The U.S. then announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Middle East to counter "clear indications" of Iranian threats.

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