Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

USA extends Obama-era sanctions relief for Iran

USA extends Obama-era sanctions relief for Iran

But, while the waiver on the nuclear-related sanctions was renewed, the US Treasury imposed new measures to punish Iranian defense officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran's missile program.

The Trump administration imposed a new set of sanctions on Iran and its ballistic missiles programme, on Wednesday, but for now, the 2015 nuclear agreement remains intact.

Mark Dubowitz, an Iran expert and head of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which advocates for a tough US position on Iran, said the latest steps were part of a "much more comprehensive strategy to use all instruments of American power to roll back Iranian regional aggression" and to "rectify what the administration sees as a deeply flawed nuclear deal". On Thursday, Iran blasted the new bans and said it would retaliate by adding nine USA individuals and corporations to its own sanctions list over human rights violations within the United States.

One of its goals, as former Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning at the State Department Jon Finer told the Independent, is to "bring accurate, nonpartisan information about the deal at a time when the focus on Iran policy is increasing and there is widespread disinformation about what is in it and how it is working".

Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat in charge of the Middle East, said the still forming a "comprehensive Iran policy", alluding to President Donald Trump's assertion that he may tear up the deal after he finishes reviewing it.

INU -Tensions have been rising in recent weeks between the United States and North Korea, with the latter aggressively pursuing missile development while boasting of its ambition to be able to reach American targets with a nuclear weapon.

"Iran condemns America'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", state media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.

The newly-sanctioned targets include a China-based network that the USA accuses of "supporting Iran's military by supplying millions of dollars' worth of missile-applicable items".

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is extending sanctions relief for Iran that was granted under the 2015 nuclear agreement, while imposing new economic penalties over Iranian ballistic-missile activity. During his tour of the Middle East, Trump will visit Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries who are also very concerned about Iranian expansionism and terrorism. The extension of the sanctions comes ahead of Iran's presidential election on Friday. 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. Through a newly formed organization called Diplomacy Works, Kerry and several national security experts who served under former U.S. President Barack Obama are fighting to protect the nuclear agreement, The Independent reported.

On Tuesday, CNBC issued an extensive report on North Korea's nuclear work in which it quoted former Central Intelligence Agency agent Fred Fleitz, now with the Center for Security Policy, as saying there is "pretty credible information" indicating that North Korea and Iran have exchanged missile design and testing know-how in both directions.

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