Trump administration keeps Iran deal alive, but with new sanctions

The U.S. slapped new sanctions on Iranian defense officials.

ByABC News
May 17, 2017, 2:19 PM

— -- The U.S. will continue to abide by the agreements in the Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite President Trump's stated disapproval of it.

The Trump administration signed a waiver today that suspends sanctions against Iran.

“We are communicating to the U.S. Congress that the United States continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing U.S. sanctions-lifting commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones in a statement.

“This ongoing review does not diminish the United States’ resolve to continue countering Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region … And above all, the United States will never allow the regime in Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” he added.

That tough talk is being met with action. Along with the department’s letter to Congress announcing those waivers, the administration is announcing new sanctions on Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company and a Chinese-based network that allegedly supplied Iran with “missile-applicable” items. The State Department also released its semi-annual report on human rights violations in Iran, as required by law.

“As we continue to closely scrutinize Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA and develop a comprehensive Iran policy, we will continue to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses with new actions,” said Jones.

These new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program follow sanctions the Trump administration slapped on Iran in April and in February, when then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said the White House was putting Iran “on notice.”

The timing is meant to show a hard stance on Iran – even as the administration continues to comply with the Iran nuclear deal. In April, the administration certified in a letter to Congress that Iran was complying with the deal – but had Secretary Tillerson hold a press conference to blast Iran for sponsoring terrorism, ballistic missile tests, and more.

The waiver for these sanctions must be resigned every 120 days. The Obama administration reportedly signed them just before leaving office 119 days ago.

The next round of waivers will expire in mid-July. That’s also when the Trump administration’s review of its Iran policy will be complete, according to a timeline laid out by Secretary Tillerson in April.

Iran’s presidential election is Friday, pitting a conservative hardliner against incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate whose government negotiated the nuclear agreement with the Obama administration and others.

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