Iran decries new USA sanctions on ballistic missile program

But 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. However since assuming the presidency, he has tempered his position, suggesting that he is studying the accord with an eye for its details, and that he is yet to reach a final position on its contents.

The Trump administration announced it is extending the sanctions relief for Iran set forth in the nuclear deal, while imposing new penalties on Iranian and Chinese entities for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Trump has described the landmark agreement as the “worst deal ever”, saying he would “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”.

“This administration is committed to countering Iran’s destabilizing behavior, such as Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and support to the Assad regime”, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. The current president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who pushed for the 2015 nuclear deal, is considered the slight favorite over Ebrahim Raisi, a former prosecutor who is closely tied to the country’s ruling hardline clerics.

The Trump administration on May 17 announced it would continue with Obama-era waivers on sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Sherman, speaking at the Cato Institute a day before the Trump administration extended the waivers allowing sanctions relief under the nuclear deal, touted important safeguards included in the deal: intrusive monitoring, strict limitations on nuclear stockpiles and centrifuge production, and most importantly, according to Sherman, an extension on nuclear breakout time, or the amount of time it would take Iran to accumulate enough material for a nuclear weapon.

“We urge our partners around the world to join us in calling out individuals and entities who violate global sanctions targeting Iran’s human rights abuses”, Jones said.

Iran has also warned that it would restore its nuclear activities to the pre-JCPOA level, if the other side – especially the US – fails to keep its end of the bargain.

Qasemi, echoing Iran’s official stance, said Iran’s ballistic missile program was no breach of the nuclear deal. In a matter of a couple of months, Iran could have a workable bomb.

The sanctions imposed over Iran’s record on human rights, terrorism and ballistic missiles has scared valuable foreign investors seen as indispensable to reviving the economy. His re-election would be welcomed by Europeans who desire more business dealings with Tehran and who likely would resist or ignore any USA efforts to slap nuclear sanctions back on Iran. “If it’s undercut by Iranian rejection of what the deal brought, it will be more hard to anticipate it enduring more than months”.

The administration’s announcement came before Iran holds a presidential election on Friday, and it’s unclear if Trump’s strident rhetoric – and the fate of the nuclear deal – will shape the outcome.

Information for this article was contributed by Josh Lederman of The Associated Press and by Carol Morello of The Washington Post.