U.S. ex­tends some Iran sanc­tions re­lief un­der nu­clear deal

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: The United States Thurs­day ex­tended some sanc­tions re­lief for Iran un­der the 2015 nu­clear deal, the State Depart­ment said, but no de­ci­sion has been made on whether to pre­serve the deal it­self.

At the same time, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said that Iran is vi­o­lat­ing “the spirit” of the Iran nu­clear deal and the U.S. Trea­sury an­nounced new cy­ber-re­lated sanc­tions on about a dozen Ira­nian in­di­vid­u­als or en­ti­ties. “We are not go­ing to stand for what they are do­ing,” Trump told re­porters on Air Force One. But he stopped short of say­ing whether he will refuse to re­cer­tify the agree­ment.

State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said the ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved waivers of some sanc­tions to “main­tain some flex­i­bil­ity” as it de­vel­ops a pol­icy to ad­dress the range of Ira­nian be­hav­ior.

“Waiv­ing some of those sanc­tions should not be seen as an in­di­ca­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump or his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s po­si­tion on the [Iran nu­clear deal], nor is the waiver giv­ing the Ira­nian regime a pass on its broad range of ma­lign be­hav­ior,” she said at a news brief­ing.

Nauert did not spec­ify which sanc­tions the ad­min­is­tra­tion had waived. Ear­lier, sources said the United States will re­new a waiver of the most puni­tive, sanc­tions it im­posed on Iran be­fore the nu­clear deal was ul­ti­mately struck.

Tucked into Sec­tion 1245 of the 2012 Na­tional De­fense Autho­riza­tion Act, Wash­ing­ton threat­ened to

sanc­tion the banks of Iran’s main oil cus­tomers if they did not sig­nif­i­cantly cut their pur­chases of Ira­nian crude.

Un­der the law, th­ese sanc­tions can be waived for a max­i­mum of 120 days, forc­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment to re­visit the is­sue ev­ery four months. For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, which ne­go­ti­ated the deal, did so in mid-Jan­uary and Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion did so again on May 17.

Sources fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter stressed that the wider U.S. pol­icy to­ward Iran, and whether to pre­serve the deal that gave Tehran sanc­tions re­lief in ex­change for curb­ing its nu­clear pro­gram, has yet to be de­cided. Trump has crit­i­cized the deal, but some of his top ad­vis­ers be­lieve he should pre­serve it.

Even as the ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pared to waive the oil-re­lated sanc­tions, the Trea­sury Depart­ment an­nounced new sanc­tions on 11 en­ti­ties and in­di­vid­u­als for “en­gag­ing in sup­port of des­ig­nated Ira­nian ac­tors or ma­li­cious cy­ber-en­abled ac­tiv­ity,” in­clud­ing two en­ti­ties based in Ukraine.

The Trea­sury al­leged the firms and in­di­vid­u­als were ei­ther en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­ity that sup­ported Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram or its Quds Force, or en­gag­ing in cy­ber-at­tacks against the U.S. fi­nan­cial sys­tem.

The ac­tion freezes any as­sets they may hold in the United States and gen­er­ally pro­hibits U.S. in­di­vid­u­als from do­ing busi­ness with them. –

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