State Department maintains Iran sanctions relief

United States renews waiver on nuclear-related sanctions that were suspended as part of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian flag
Iranian flag

The United States on Wednesday renewed its waiver on the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran that it had suspended as part of the Iranian nuclear deal, AFP reported.

Washington nevertheless maintained a stern tone, imposing new measures to punish Iranian defense officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran's banned missile program, according to the report.

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

Under the terms of the 2015 deal, the previous administration of President Barack Obama agreed to waive sanctions on Iran's nuclear program in return for controls to prevent its developing a bomb.

Some of those sanctions waivers come up for review this week for the first time since President Donald Trump was elected.

During the presidential election campaign, Trump was highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal, saying it was “disastrous” and pledging to annul it.

After he was sworn in as president, Trump described the nuclear deal as “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated” and accused the Islamic Republic of “disrespecting” the United States because of the deal.

On Wednesday, however, Washington's top diplomat for the Middle East, Stuart Jones, said the department had told Congress that "the United States continues to waive sanctions" that were lifted under the Iran deal.

Nevertheless, his statement added, the Treasury Department will apply new targeted sanctions on individuals and firms helping Iran's banned ballistic missile program.

"Iran continues to pursue missile-related technologies capable of delivering a nuclear weapon," he said, according to AFP.

"The State Department will continue to partner with our colleagues at the Department of the Treasury to ensure our national security in the face of Iranian threats," he added.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently criticized the nuclear deal as a failure, announcing that the Trump administration is conducting a “comprehensive review” of the agreement.

Tillerson said at the time that the Iran deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” and only delays it becoming a nuclear state.

Trump later echoed Tillerson’s sentiments, saying Iran is failing to live up to the “spirit” of the nuclear deal and warning that his administration is debating whether or not to leave the agreement.