Trump Administration Upholds Iran Sanctions Waiver, Keeping Nuclear Deal Alive

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The U.S. sanctioned two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company and members of a China-based network for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement Wednesday.

Bloomberg Politics notes that even as these new sanctions were announced, the Trump administration "notified Congress that it's continuing to waive sanctions, including restrictions on oil sales, that were eased under the 2015 deal between world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear program", based on an April finding that "Iran is complying with its side of the deal".

Aiming to undercut the perception that Trump is softening on Iran, the US paired the announcement with new sanctions punishing Iran for its ballistic missiles program. Farasatpour coordinated the sale and delivery of explosives and other materiel to a Syrian government agency, the Treasury Department said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Iran's actions were destabilizing the Middle East, and he accused Iranian officials of "assisting the brutal Assad regime".

The United States "continues to waive sanctions as required" to continue implementing the nuclear deal, the US State Department announced on Wednesday.

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One senior Trump administration official working on the Iran portfolio told the Washington Free Beacon that the new sanctions are part of a larger effort to "hold Tehran accountable" for its nefarious activities that threaten regional peace.

"It's a clear message to foreign banks and companies looking to do business with Iran: You will be taking significant risks if you deal with a regime engaged in continued malign conduct and still covered by a web of expanding non-nuclear sanctions", he said. "Iran continues to pursue missile-related technologies capable of delivering a nuclear weapon", Jones said.

"As long as Iran abides by its commitments, it is in the best interest of United States national security [for the US] to continue [to] meet its obligations under the deal and refrain from steps that undermine the agreement", Davenport said.

At the same time, the US retains sanctions against Iran on the missile program, human rights and on suspicion that Tehran sponsors terrorism.

The State Department will also issue a report that condemns Iran for human rights violations, a move that comes two days before Iran's presidential elections.

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The decision came just before a Friday presidential election in Iran, in which moderate President Hassan Rouhani is fighting for a second term against hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a much tougher stance against the West.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hit back at Tillerson, saying "worn-out US accusations" could not "mask its admission of Iran's compliance" with the agreement.

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. They said abiding by the deal while enforcing sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile program and criticizing Iran's human rights abuses is consistent with the previous administration's approach.

Europe's leaders are quickly moving forward on economic normalisation with Iran, and scuttling the nuclear deal would have wide-ranging diplomatic repercussions with major allies, she said.

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