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US President Donald Trump has signed off "hard-hitting" sanctions against Iran which he says will target the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The moves comes amid escalating tensions between the two countries after Tehran shot down an American drone last week.

Speaking in the Oval Office at the White House, Mr Trump said he was signing an executive order to impose fresh financial sanctions due to Iran's "increasingly provocative actions".

US President Donald Trump shows an executive order on sanctions on Iran's supreme leader in the Oval Office of the White House on June 24, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Donald Trump signs an executive order imposing fresh sanctions on Iran

The president said Iran's supreme leader was responsible for "the hostile conduct of the regime" and the sanctions will deny him and his office "access to key financial resources and support".

"Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon," Mr Trump said.

"They are the number one sponsor of terror anywhere in the world."

He added: "We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I look forward to the day when sanctions can finally be lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous and productive nation."

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the new sanctions will lock up billions of additional dollars in Iranian assets.

However Russia has said it will counter the sanctions - which have been branded "illegal" by Moscow - and called for dialogue between the US and Iran.

Mr Trump initially told reporters the sanctions were in response to the shooting down of the $100m unmanned US drone over the Strait of Hormuz, but later claimed they would have been imposed regardless of the incident.

Iran's military has released video which it claims shows a US surveillance drone being shot down by Iranian forces />/>/>
Iran: Footage shows US drone being shot down

Iran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

The US has sought to rally support in the Middle East and Europe for a hard-line stance against Iran that has brought it to the verge of conflict with its longtime foe.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia - a rival of Iran - on Monday where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Image: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The US has accused Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets.

In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Britain expressed concern over and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilising activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.

American has also blamed Iran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf in recent weeks - for which Tehran has denied responsibility - and the US says it is building a coalition with allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

US oil tanker allegedly attacked by Iran
Image: The US blamed Iran for an attack on an American oil tanker

The White House confirmed the US launched cyber attacks against Iran, saying it disabled the country's intelligence systems which controlled its rocket and missile launchers.

However Iran claimed the cyber attacks were a failure, with the country's minister for information and communications technology saying on Twitter: "They try hard, but have not carried out a successful attack."

It comes after Mr Trump said last week that he pulled out of airstrikes in retaliation for Iran's downing of the unmanned US drone because it would have killed 150 people.

Tensions between the two countries have risen since the US pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal that world powers signed with Iran and it has already applied crushing sanctions on the country's economy.

The tensions have also been in firm focus for financial markets over the past week with gold, a traditional safe haven asset in times of hostilities, hitting fresh six-week highs on Monday.

However, the cost of Brent crude oil fell back below $65 a barrel - down more than 1.4% on the day - as the sanctions were seen as easing the threat of a war.

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