Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

U.S. extends Iran nuclear deal sanctions relief, imposes new ballistic missile sanctions


Iran said on Thursday that the new U.S sanctions targeting it's ballistic missile program show "ill will" and are likely to undermine the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat in charge of the Middle East, said the U.S.is still forming a "comprehensive Iran policy" that addresses Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

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

Iran has also warned that it would restore its nuclear activities to the pre-JCPOA level, if the other side - especially the US - fails to keep its end of the bargain.

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"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.

The US administration is re-evaluating its relationship with Iran, including whether to remain a party to the nuclear deal.

Richard Nephew, a former USA negotiator with Iran now at Columbia University, called the renewal an "important step" in maintaining the deal but said it was still threatened by "congressional pressure, Republican politics, and the views of many people" in the Trump administration. Additionally, this decision also seems to be a demonstration of the extent to which Trump's foreign policy advisers, including Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, have apparently managed to moderate numerous positions that Trump had taken on the campaign trail.

The decision not to renew sanctions came just two days before Iran votes and may prove a boost for President Hassan Rouhani, who approved the nuclear deal and is seeking re-election.

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However, the US Treasury issued fresh sanctions against specific officials and a Chinese business with links to Iran's missile programme. The Syrian agency produces unconventional weapons, such as the chemical weapons Assad's forces used earlier this year.

Wendy Sherman, who served as undersecretary of State for political affairs from 2011 to 2015, said that the nuclear deal allows the U.S.to use "all options" if Iran were to backpedal on the deal.

The Treasury said it had added two Iranian defense officials and an Iranian business to its sanctions lists, accusing them of aiding the missile program or supplying explosives to Syria. The sanctions also target a series of Chinese companies associated with Ruan Runling, a Chinese citizen. Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015, agreeing to significantly curb operations at its nuclear facilities in return for the lifting of global oil and banking sanctions. It also has clinched bigger deals with trans-Atlantic rivals Airbus and Boeing.

The US on Wednesday renewed a waiver of the key, and most punitive, sanctions that it imposed on Iran before the nuclear deal was ultimately struck.

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