President Barack Obama. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Iranian Emad missile

The launching of the Emad long-range surface-to-surface missile. (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Is the nuclear deal in danger? The Obama administration appears to be taking action in response to Iran’s belligerence and its breach of UN resolutions.

The Obama administration is preparing to impose financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic following its repeated missile tests, which constitute a breach of specific UN resolutions.

According to a Thursday report in the Wall Street Journal, this would be the first time such sanctions would be imposed on Iran since the signing of the controversial nuclear deal in July, and presents a major test for whether Tehran will stay committed to the deal.

The planned action by the Treasury Department, US officials told the WSJ, is directed at a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their role in developing Iran’s ballistic-missile program.

The sanctions would prohibit US or foreign nationals from conducting business with the blacklisted firms. US banks are also ordered to freeze any assets the companies or individuals hold inside the American financial system.

The Treasury retains a right under the agreement to blacklist Iranian entities involved in missile development, as well as those that support international terrorism and human-rights abuses.

Iranian officials have warned the White House in recent months that any such financial penalties would be viewed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a violation of the nuclear deal.

Critics of the administration said Wednesday that the impending sanctions are trivial when compared with the amount of sanctions relief Iran is set to receive next year under the nuclear deal.

“While the Obama administration has finally done something to push back against illegal Iranian ballistic-missile testing, these latest measures are the bare minimum,” Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank critical of the Iran deal, told the WSJ.

The Iranian government on Wednesday didn’t immediately respond to a request by the WSJ for comment on the possible new sanctions, which are expected to be formally announced this week.

Iran has twice test-fired ballistic missiles since the July agreement, one in October and a second in November.

A United Nations panel ruled this month that the October launch violated a UN Security Council (UNSC) two resolutions that bans Iran’s development of ballistic-missile systems, which is tied in with the nuclear agreement.

In the meantime, Iran announced this week that Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units have been supplied with large numbers of Iran’s new precision-guided long-range ballistic missile, Emad.

Tensions between the US and Iran already rose this week after the Pentagon rebuked Tehran for testing rockets near an American aircraft carrier and French warships in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.