Key Points

In a statement, Pompeo noted that the 1979 hostage crisis “has cast a 40-year shadow over our relations,” but “the longest-suffering victims of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people.” Monday’s sanctions constitute a poignant expression of solidarity with their plight.

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But with the International Monetary Fund now forecasting Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5% in 2019, the Trump administration is betting that Iran could still change its mind.

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Treasury also should sanction the financiers of cyber operations, as sanctioning only the hackers themselves has been insufficient to deter their misbehavior. Reports indicate, for example, that another sanctioned Iranian cyber threat group, known as Cobalt Dickens, continues to operate unimpeded. Treasury’s existing anti-terrorism and non-proliferation sanctions are potent because they target not only the aggressors but also their financial networks. For U.S. sanctions to be an effective tool to combat and thwart cyber operations, this expansiveness must be replicated in the cyber realm.

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Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay.

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