Washington: The US ramped up pressure on Iran with sanctions on 700 entities, targeting its energy and banking sector as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to rein in what it calls the Islamic republic’s “malign” activity in the Middle East as well as its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

The Treasury Department announced on Monday sanctions on 50 Iranian banks, 200 individuals, and shipping vessels tied to Iran’s shipping and energy sector and more than 65 Iranian aircraft. The action brings the total number of Iran-related targets to 900, the highest ever, according to the department.

“Treasury’s imposition of unprecedented financial pressure on Iran should make clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation and economic stagnation until they fundamentally change their destabilising behaviour,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Monday.

He said the pressure “is only going to mount from here” unless Iran’s leaders halt its support for terrorism and abandon its nuclear ambitions “immediately.”

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is scheduled to announce a list of eight countries that will get temporary waivers to keep importing Iranian oil at 8.30am Washington time on Monday. Trump said on Friday that Iran’s government must “either abandon its destructive behaviour or continue down the path toward economic disaster.”