Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump administration keeps Iran deal alive, but with new sanctions

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday extended wide sanctions relief for Iran called for under a 2015 global nuclear deal even as he imposed narrow penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures for supporting Iran's ballistic missile programme.

While the Trump administration continues to waive certain sanctions on Iran as required under the nuclear agreement, officials said the administration would not back down from imposing new sanctions, such as those announced Wednesday.

But the Trump administration, dominated by fiercely anti-Iran sentiment, balanced the sanctions waivers with new measures against Iranian defence officials and a Chinese business tied to Tehran's ballistic missile programme.

One of President Trump's biggest targets on the campaign trail was the Iran nuclear deal.

The US also punished another Iranian official it said was involved in Iran's ballistic missile program, as well as Matin Sanat Nik Andishan, a company based in Iran that the US said helped obtain materials for the ballistic missile program.

The notification of waivers follows a finding in April that Iran is complying with its side of the deal.

The US brands Iran a "state sponsor of terrorism".

Since Mr Trump's inauguration, his administration has also continued to certify to Congress that Iran is upholding its part of the deal, which it must do every 90 days.

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Aiming to undercut the perception that Trump is softening on Iran, the USA paired the announcement with new sanctions punishing Iran for its ballistic missiles program. "I don't think they love it, and they think they could have done better", she said "(The safeguards mean) that all of our options, to reimpose sanctions or to take military action, remain in our hands, and we will have enough time to use any of those tools and more if we decide that they are trying to break out".

On Thursday, Iran blasted the new bans and said it would retaliate by adding nine US individuals and corporations to its own sanctions list over human rights violations within the United States.

Every 90 days, the US president must certify for Congress that Iran is fully compliant with the JCPOA to ensure that the economic sanctions can continue to be waivered.

Under the deal, the United States and five other world powers agreed to lift sanctions in exchange for Iran rolling back its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the US Departments of State and Treasury announced to apply new targeted sanctions on individuals and firms helping Iran's banned ballistic missile programme. "We urge our partners around the world to join us in calling out individuals and entities who violate worldwide sanctions targeting Iran's human rights abuses".

The Trump administration will have to waive more sanctions next month, should it wish to maintain the historic nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, former US Secretary of State John Kerry and national security experts from the administration of former President Barack Obama have thrown their weight behind a newly formed organization called "Diplomacy Works", which aims to which aims defend the nuclear deal.

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