The White House on Sunday threatened Iran with “severe consequences” in the wake of recent escalations on the second anniversary of the U.S. strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.
Over the past week, Iranian officials grew increasingly bellicose as the country mourned the loss of the infamous general, with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatening revenge unless former President Donald Trump is placed on trial.
“Make no mistake: the United States of America will protect and defend its citizens,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement Sunday. “This includes those serving in the United States now and who formerly served.”
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On Saturday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry expanded its list of sanctions to 51 Americans who Iran claims were involved in the strike, citing current and former U.S. officials for “glorification of terrorism” and for violating “fundamental human rights.”
Mr. Sullivan said Iran’s rhetoric rings hollow.
He says while Iranian officials target Americans from their soapbox “they do so as Iran’s proxy militias continue to attack American troops in the Middle East, and as Iranian officials threaten to carry out terror operations inside the United States and elsewhere around the world.”
The measure announced Saturday would permit Iranian authorities to seize any assets held in Iran. The individuals named are unlikely to be affected by the move.
In a similar move following the first anniversary of the strike, Iran blacklisted Mr. Trump, who ordered the fatal strike, and senior members of his administration including Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper, then the secretary of state and defense, respectively.
Iranian officials expanded the list this year to include Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
Mr. Trump faced heavy criticism from Democrats for the January 2020 strike, which killed Soleimani in Baghdad just days after Iranian-backed militia members stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
Mr. Biden, at the time, said the strike led to an “avoidable” escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions.
But Mr. Sullivan made clear that the U.S. remains united in its opposition to Iranian aggression regardless of political party.
“As Americans, we have our disagreements on politics,” Mr. Sullivan said Sunday, “We have our disagreements on Iran policy. But we are united in our resolve against threats and provocations. We are united in the defense of our people.”
Mark Dubowitz, a foreign policy expert who has advised several administrations from both parties on Iran policy, applauded Mr. Sullivan’s remarks.
“Kudos to @JakeSullivan46 and the @JoeBiden administration for condemning regime threats and provocations against American citizens,” Mr. Dubowitz wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Dubowitz is the chief executive of the non-partisan policy institute the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Several FDD experts, including Mr. Dubowitz, have been sanctioned by Iran for their foreign policy work.
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