They might not be as terrifying as the White Walkers or Khaleesi's dragons, but the Trump administration's new sanctions on Iran were announced Friday with the help of a "Game of Thrones"-inspired parody poster declaring: "SANCTIONS ARE COMING."
The rollout initially was executed in traditional Washington fashion: a conference call, a press release, a formal White House tweet. The headline was that the administration, as expected, would restore the final round of sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal -- though there would be exemptions for eight countries.
But then President Trump stepped in with extra flair, tweeting the following meme from the Westeros Wing:
It's unclear who created the movie-style poster image, and whether House (John) Bolton was consulted.
But HBO reportedly objected to their "trademark" being "misappropriated."
The hit show's stars were not amused either.
On the earlier conference call, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the sanctions on Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors. The sanctions will target Iran’s crude oil exports and will penalize countries that don’t stop importing oil and foreign companies that do business with certain Iranian entities.
Pompeo said that the sanctions are intended to fundamentally change the Iranian regime's behavior. But the administration also announced that there would be eight significant reduction exemptions (SREs) for countries that haven’t completely eliminated oil imports from Iran. The waivers will last for a six-month period and will be re-evaluated after that time is up. The Associated Press reported that those exempted include Italy, India, Japan and South Korea.
United Against Nuclear Iran, a non-partisan advocacy group, welcomed the sanctions but expressed concern about the waivers.
"We encourage the Trump administration to fulfill the promise of a maximum pressure campaign – no exceptions – until Iran permanently and verifiably changes its behavior," Chairman and former Sen. Joe Liberman and CEO Mark Wallace, a former U.N. ambassador, said in a statement. "Oil and gas firms, including those from friendly countries like India, South Korea and Japan, should not be granted sanctions waivers."
The move is the latest round of sanctions re-imposed since President Trump announced the U.S. exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. In August the administration re-imposed a host of economic sanctions, drawing criticism from European leaders in particular.
"We deeply regret the further re-imposition of sanctions by the United States, due to the latter’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)," E.U. High Representative Federica Mogherini, along with French, German and British foreign and finance ministers, said in a joint statement. "The JCPoA is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and of multilateral diplomacy, endorsed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council through Resolution 2231. It is crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world."
Trump has repeatedly blasted the deal, which critics say does not do enough to end Iran’s aggression in the region. At a U.N. Security Council meeting in September, Trump defended his administration’s decision to pull out of the Obama-era deal, and blasted what he called a “horrible, one-sided deal [that] allowed Iran to continue its path toward a [nuclear] bomb and gave the regime a cash lifeline when they needed it the most.”
“They were in big big trouble,” he said. “They needed cash, we gave it to them.”
Trump said that in addition to the November sanctions, the U.S. "will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran's malign conduct."
"Any individual or entity who fails to comply with these sanctions will face severe consequences," he warned.
Fox News' Nicholas Kalman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.