US sanctions head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

US continues sanctioning Iran in the wake of its repeated violations of the 2015 deal with world powers.

Elad Benari ,

Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi

The United States on Thursday announced new sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran as well as its chief officer, Ali Akbar Salehi.

The US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, announced the sanctions and said, “The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has played a big role in Iran breaching its key nuclear commitments. It has exceeded the limits on its uranium stockpile and enrichment levels. The head of AEOI personally inaugurated the installation of new, advanced centrifuges to expand its uranium enrichment capacity. He also chaired a ceremony when Iran started injecting uranium gas into advanced IR-6 centrifuge machines.”

Hook also said that the US is renewing for 60 days four nuclear restrictions on Iran that permit the continuation of nonproliferation projects that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities.

“We will closely monitor all developments in Iran’s nuclear program, and Secretary Pompeo can end these projects as developments warrant,” he added.

“Iran’s continued nuclear escalation underscores the serious challenge the Iranian regime poses to international peace and security. We call on nations to oppose Iran’s nuclear extortion and to restore the United Nations Security Council standard of no enrichment for the Iranian regime. That standard was abandoned under the Iran nuclear deal and it needs to be restored,” said Hook.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

In one of the moves, the Islamic Republic restarted uranium enrichment at the underground Fordow facility in violation of the deal.

Earlier this month, Iran announced that it will abandon the deal altogether following the US killing of its top general Qassem Soleimani.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said last week that Iran is not ruling out negotiations with the United States but reiterated his country's previous demand that first the US would have to lift sanctions.

Trump rejected Zarif’s remarks, writing on Twitter, “Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. No Thanks!”