US extends Iran nuke sanctions relief, adds other sanctions

Roughly every 120 days following the implementation of the deal in January 2016, the U.S. president must determine whether to issue waivers temporarily suspending some sanctions.

The United States has sanctioned two Iranian defence officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese individual and a group of Chinese firms due to their support for Iran's ballistic missile programme, according to a US Treasury Department statement on Wednesday.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying."Iran condemns United State's unacceptable ill will in its effort to undermine the positive outcome of Tehran's commitment to implement the nuclear deal by adding individuals to its list of unilateral and illegal sanctions".

But Washington's top diplomat for the Middle East, Stuart Jones, said in a statement that the department had told Congress that "the United States continues to waive sanctions" that were lifted under the Iran deal. But Washington must issue periodical waivers to keep the penalties from snapping back into place and the most recent one was set to expire this week.

The U.S.is reviewing whether to continue honoring what President Donald Trump has called "the frightful Iran deal".

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

"Iran continues to pursue missile-related technologies capable of delivering a nuclear weapon", Jones said.

"The Treasury Department is imposing new sanctions on Iranian defense officials, an Iranian entity, and a China-based network that supplied missile-applicable items to a key Iranian defense entity".

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"In renewing waivers of US sanctions, the Trump administration has once again grudgingly acknowledged that Iran continues to abide by its obligations under the agreement".

"If they don't renew the waivers they will have a big mess on their hands", Timothy O'Toole, a sanctions attorney at a U.S. law firm told Financial Times.

Donald Trump as a candidate vowed to renegotiate or tear up the nuclear deal. Absent a clear violation of the agreement by Iran, our partners in the P5+1 [China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany] who helped negotiate the Iran deal would be unlikely to reimpose their own sanctions, without which American sanctions lose most of their impact.

This move came two days before Trump would begin his first foreign trip. The designations also make it illegal for US banks, companies or citizens to do do business with them. "Categorically", former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman - who led the USA negotiating team at the Iran nuclear talks - said at a panel hosted by the Cato Institute on Tuesday, which included this reporter.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has certified that Iran is "compliant" with the deal, but has ordered an interagency review of US-Iran policy.

But many Iranians are frustrated they haven't seen the benefits of the deal in terms of improved living standards.

New sanctions also have been placed on an Iranian-based company known as Matin Sanat Nik Andishan for its proliferation activities supporting Iran's ballistic missile program. The report said Iran continues to inflict torture, execute children convicted of crimes and detain people arbitrarily.

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