China protests ‘unhelpful’ United States sanctions on Iran

The Trump administration said Wednesday it will renew sanctions relief for Iran promised under a 2015 nuclear deal but also announced new punitive measures against Iranian officials over the country’s ballistic missile program.

Separately, the treasury department said it had sanctioned two senior Iranian defence officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese man and three Chinese companies for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

According to the ministry’s statement, the sanctioned United States companies and individuals, whose names are expected to be announced later, are accused of “direct or indirect cooperation with the Zionist regime in committing crimes against humanity in Palestine”.

Remaining, unilateral US sanctions imposed over Iran’s record on human rights, terrorism and ballistic missiles development has scared many would-be foreign investors seen as indispensable to reviving an economy stunted by many years of isolation.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.

North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, and many western countries as well as security experts suspect that Iran harbours designs to acquire atomic arms for itself, in addition to its suspected arsenal of chemical weapons that were produced during the 1980s.

Iran’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that the country will continue its missile program in line with its “inalienable and legal right” to upgrade the country’s defensive capabilities, the ministry’s spokesman Bahram Ghasemi wrote on his Telegram channel May 18.

The US decision to stick by the nuclear deal with Iran, despite new sanctions on its missile programme, provided welcome news for President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, a day before his bid for re-election.

Should the victorious candidate decide to prioritize issues which provoke its agreement partners or declare that the economic benefits of the JCPOA do not merit its continuation in the current format, there is a heightened risk that President Donald Trump will retreat from his side of the deal.

“It is alarming that individuals involved with Iran’s missile program are assisting the brutal Assad regime, and we are taking action to curtail this behavior”, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Jones’ remarks accompanied the State Department’s semi-annual report to Congress on sanctions targeting Iran’s human rights abuses.

“Last month the Treasury Department imposed the first human rights-related sanctions designations against Iranian individuals and entities since December 2014, and we will continue to pursue initiatives around the world that uphold our core values of promoting and protecting human rights”, he said.

The US administration is re-evaluating its relationship with Iran, including whether to remain a party to the nuclear deal.

Trump’s upcoming Middle East tour is aimed at getting Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in the region to stand in unity with Israel against Iran, according to Tillerson.

During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to tear up the nuclear deal, which he called “the worst deal ever negotiated” but since he took office, his advisors have warned that this move would be more complicated than he thought, mainly because the deal also involves the UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United Nations.