Fri, May 19, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Iran condemns new US sanctions

AFP, TEHRAN

Iran yesterday criticized new US sanctions on its missile program, saying they would undermine a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Iran condemns the US administration’s ill will in its effort to reduce the positive results of the country’s implementation of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] commitments by adding individuals to the list of unilateral and illegal extraterritorial sanctions,” Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on his Telegram instant messaging channel.

The administration of US President Donald Trump on Wednesday chose to stick by the nuclear deal with Iran, renewing a waiver of nuclear-related sanctions, despite his past criticism of the pact.

However, it imposed new measures to punish Iranian defense officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran’s ballistic missile program, which it said is in breach of international law, because they could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

The decision came just before today’s presidential election in Iran, in which moderate President Hassan Rouhani is fighting for a second term against cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who has called for a much tougher stance against the West.

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons and Ghasemi said its missile program is part of its “absolute and legal right to build up the country’s defensive capabilities.”

Ghasemi said Iran would retaliate by adding nine US individuals and companies to its own sanctions list, accusing them of “clear violations of human rights” in relation to their support for Israel or “terrorist groups” in the Middle East.

Trump threatened to tear up the nuclear deal during his campaign and has launched a review of its terms, but until then he is required to decide on renewing sanctions relief at regular intervals.

His first deadline fell this week: sanctions on oil purchases through the Iranian central bank — part of a 2012 law called the National Defense Authorization Act — that must be waived every 120 days.

The administration will have to waive more sanctions next month if it wants to stick by the nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month said that Iran was complying with its side of the bargain, but has described the country as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Washington has maintained a raft of other sanctions related to human rights and the missile program that continue to stifle Iran’s efforts to rebuild its foreign trade.

This has been a major issue in the Iranian election, with Raisi accusing Rouhani of making too many concessions without gaining any economic benefits.

Although oil sales have rebounded since the deal came into effect in January last year, Iran’s continued exclusion from the international banking system has prevented it from signing much needed trade and investment deals with Europe and Asia.

Rouhani has vowed to work toward the removal of remaining sanctions and called for more time to allow the benefits of the deal to reach ordinary Iranians.

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