Trump confirms Iran nuclear compliance but still sanctions

Cites Iran nuclear deal failure to contribute to Middle East stability.

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Mordechai Sones,

Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif sits with United Nations Secretary-General
Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif sits with United Nations Secretary-General
Reuters

The Trump administration today (Tuesday) announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorists, citing the failure of the Iran nuclear deal to contribute to the stability of the Middle East, reports USA Today.

The move came a day after the administration certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal but would face consequences for breaching its “spirit."

President Trump, who vowed as a presidential candidate to dismantle the agreement, has chosen to bide his time to determine whether to let it stand.

Congress requires regular notification from the administration that Iran is complying with the agreement it reached two years ago with the United States and five other world powers to limit its nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

Ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations but are not covered by the nuclear accord.

The sanctions designate 18 entities and individuals supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program, Iran’s military and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and an Iranian transnational criminal organization, the State Department said.

"Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever 'positive contributions' to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge from the (agreement)," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The nuclear deal, which bans weapons development in return for the lifting of international sanctions, was signed by President Barack Obama and leaders of Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany. The other countries want to keep the deal in force.

The parties believed the agreement would "positively contribute to regional and international peace and security," according to their statements at the time.

Instead, Iran has expanded activities that undermine regional stability, security and prosperity, according to Nauert. She said Iran continues to:

  • Support terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East.
  • Support the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad despite atrocities against his own people.
  • Provide the Houthi rebels in Yemen with advanced weaponry that threatens freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, has been used to attack Saudi Arabia, and is prolonging the Yemen conflict.
  • Test and develop ballistic missiles, in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said yesterday (Monday) that his country is not designing missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which is banned under the deal, but to defend itself.

"We need them to make sure that another Saddam Hussein around the corner will not come and hit us again," Zarif said, speaking at the Council on Foreign relations in New York City, according to Reuters. Iran and Iraq fought a war from 1980 to 1988.

He also faulted U.S. sanctions policy as ineffective. Iran added thousands of centrifuges for producing nuclear fuel after the U.S. began imposing sanctions before agreeing to temporarily scale back its nuclear program under international monitoring.

Nauert said Iran's bad behavior also includes detaining U.S. citizens and other foreigners on fabricated national-security related charges, and that the U.S. calls on Iran to release them.

She named Baquer Namazi, Siamak Namazi, and Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, according to a report that came out Sunday.

Iran also promised to help find former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared more than a decade ago on Kish Island, and the U.S. wants it to follow through, she said.

“Iran should immediately release all of these U.S. citizens on humanitarian grounds,” Nauert said.

The new sanctions target the IRGC Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization, which the State Department said is involved in Iranian ballistic missile research and flight test launches. The State Department also designated the IRGC Research and Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization as responsible for research and development of ballistic missiles.

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated three networks supporting the development of unmanned aerial vehicles and military equipment for the IRGC, the production and maintenance of fast attack boats for the IRGC-Navy, and the procurement of electronic components for entities that support Iran’s military.

Treasury also designated two Iranian businessmen and associated entities who orchestrated the theft of U.S. and western software programs which were sold to the government of Iran.

Iran, which is among the world's largest petroleum producers, says its nuclear program has peaceful aims.

The Trump administration said it is working with U.S. allies to fix the deal’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more.

The administration is conducting a review of U.S.-Iran policy and will continue to use sanctions to target anyone who supports Iran’s destabilizing behavior, Nauert said.

"And above all, the United States will never allow the regime in Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," she said.








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