US extends sanctions relief under Iran nuke deal

20 May, 2017, 08:09 | Author: Valerie Burke

The newly-imposed measures aim to punish Iranian defence officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran's ballistic missile programme, which it says is in breach of global law because they could carry nuclear warheads in the future. As president he has altered his position, insisting he is still studying the accord and hasn't made a final decision. The U.S.is reviewing whether to continue honoring what President Donald Trump has called "the terrible Iran deal".

"We inform that the United States continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing USA sanctions-lifting commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action", Assistant to the Secretary of State Stuart Jones said.

Nevertheless, his statement added, the Treasury Department will apply new targeted sanctions on individuals and firms helping Iran's banned ballistic missile program.

"This administration is committed to countering Iran's destabilising behaviour, such as Iran's development of ballistic missiles and support to the Assad regime", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Iran holds a presidential election on Friday with President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric whose administration reached the nuclear deal, battling a conservative challenger and trying to convince voters he can deliver economic growth.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in April that Iran was complying with its side of the bargain, but has described the country as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Since Mr Trump's inauguration, his administration has also continued to certify to Congress that Iran is upholding its part of the deal, which it must do every 90 days.

In a retaliation move, Iran added nine Americans and companies to its own list of 15 US companies for human rights violations and cooperation with Israel.

The United States claims that Iran's missile tests violated Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 to endorse the nuclear agreement. The State Department communicated to the Congress that the U.S. continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing the USA sanctions-lifting commitments in the JCPOA.

But Raisi, considered a potential successor to Khamenei, has gained ground by accusing Rouhani of not capitalizing on the agreement and, by extension, blaming him for the deepening poverty and rising unemployment afflicting a country that is awash with oil deals since nuclear sanctions were lifted. In a matter of a couple of months, Iran could have a workable bomb.

However, taking something of a carrot and stick approach, it simultaneously imposed new measures aimed at punishing Tehran for its ballistic missile development programme, human rights record and support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The dual track sanctions policy shows that the major review of U.S. Iranian policy ordered by the president is not complete, and for the foreseeable future, Iran will continue to enjoy the economic benefits of sanctions relief. "If it's undercut by Iranian rejection of what the deal brought, it will be more hard to anticipate it enduring more than months".

While campaigning for the presidency, Donald Trump proclaimed that he would completely refashion the deal or even go as far as abrogating it.

Information for this article was contributed by Josh Lederman of The Associated Press and by Carol Morello of The Washington Post.

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