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Trump orders 'substantial increase' in Iran sanctions

Trump orders substantial   increase in Iran sanctions

Washington DC: President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced what he said would be substantial new sanctions against Iran in the first response to what US officials say was likely Iranian involvement in an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump said in a tweet.

The United States already enforces widespread sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, including attempting to shut down its major oil export industry.

There were no immediate details on what the new measures might be.

Trump has yet to put categorical blame on Iran for last weekend's bombardment by drones or missiles of Saudi oil facilities. However, a US official has confirmed to AFP that the administration believes Iran is responsible.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due shortly in Saudi Arabia to meet with the petro-state's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to discuss a response.

Trump faces pressure from some quarters in Washington to go to war against Iran but he has so far resisted expanding US military entanglements abroad.

Huthi insurgents in Yemen, who have Iranian backing and are fighting Saudi-backed forces, say they sent drones to bomb the Saudi facilities. Iran denies carrying out the attack.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday named his chief hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien as the new National Security Adviser to replace John Bolton, who was fired last week.

O'Brien, who has been serving as the special envoy for hostage affairs at the Department of State, has been chosen for the role, Trump tweeted.

"I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O'Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor.

"I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!" he said.

In his role as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, O'Brien works with families of American hostages and advises on related issues, including recovery policies.

In choosing O'Brien to replace Bolton, the president tapped a longtime lawyer who has impressed him with his work to extricate Americans detained by countries like North Korea and Turkey, The New York Times reported.

O'Brien would be Trump's fourth national security adviser of his presidency.

On Tuesday, the White House said President Trump has shortlisted five people for the NSA'S position.

The five names are of Robert O'Brien, Ric Waddell, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Fred Fleitz and Keith Kellogg, the White House said.

Trump fired his hawkish National Security Advisor Bolton on September 11, saying he "disagreed strongly" with many of his suggestions.

The president defended his decision to fire Bolton, saying the latter had done some "big mistakes" and his actions were not in line with the administration.

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