United States renews hold on Iran nuclear sanctions, implements missile sanctions

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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.

The Treasury on Wednesday also announced new USA sanctions against seven people linked to Iran's ballistic missile program, including two senior defense officials and a China-based network that supports Iran's military.

The US State Department also released a report on cited Iranian human rights violations required by Congress every six months.

Iran, meanwhile, has been too busy to react, as it often does, to the seemingly contradictory announcements from Washington, seeing as Iranians are getting ready to cast their votes in the presidential elections on Friday, May 19. Some of those waivers would have expired this week if Trump had not made a decision to further renew them. We urge our partners around the world to join us in calling out individuals and entities who violate global sanctions targeting Iran's human rights abuses.

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While Rouhani will be able to point to the Trump administration's granting of continued sanctions relief as a victory of the nuclear deal that was achieved on his watch, such grandstanding may have lost the effect that it once had. Rouhani has gone further, vowing to end all remaining sanctions still imposed for human-rights abuses, ballistic missile tests and terrorism support.

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

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is officially known, removes financial sanctions against Iran as long as the country proves it won't develop or acquire nuclear weapons.

"The Chinese side is always opposed to unilateral sanctions, to the frequent implementation of unilateral sanctions, especially when it hurts interests of third parties", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says.

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The U.S. also punished another Iranian official it said has been involved in Iran's ballistic missile program, as well as Matin Sanat Nik Andishan, a company based in Iran that the U.S. said helped obtain materials for the ballistic missile program. Nephew made the remarks in a call hosted by Diplomacy Works, a new organization of former U.S. diplomats and policymakers, mostly Democrats, formed to defend the deal.

The implications of the Trump administration's decision to extend sanctions relief, will however, reverberate beyond the realm of worldwide relations. "This is not a major indication of a policy change".

Wednesday's actions come just two days before the Iranian presidential election, which pits incumbent Hassan Rouhani, whose administration negotiated the JCPOA, against hardliners who oppose opening relations with the west.

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

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