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US extends Iran nuke sanctions relief, adds other sanctions

US extends Iran nuke sanctions relief, adds other 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 the new penalties.

While the US says it will continue waiving these sanctions, it is ratcheting up other sanctions related to human rights abuses and the country's ballistic missile program.

But the US will also impose new economic penalties related to the country's missile work.

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

The U.S. will continue to "scrutinize Iran's commitment" to the nuclear deal while developing a "comprehensive Iran policy", Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones said in a statement. But Washington must issue periodical waivers to keep the penalties from snapping back into place and the most recent one was set to expire this week.

Trump administration officials say the White House is carrying out a comprehensive review of USA policy on Iran, which is focused on what officials consider Tehran's expanding influence in the region. However, Washington also separately extended wider sanctions relief for Iran called for under the nuclear accord. "And above all, the United States will never allow the regime in Iran to acquire nuclear weapons". The new sanctions designate seven entities, including two top Iranian defense officials and a China-based network that supplies material to Iran's missile program.

The easing of sanctions is part of a crucial nuclear deal brokered in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama with five other world powers.

The State Department also released a new report criticizing Iran for human rights abuses.

The Iranian officials sanctioned on Wednesday are Morteza Farasatpour and Rahim Ahmadi.

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. The sanctions relief requires a waiver that must be renewed every six months.

The Iranian government and some Iranian citizens have been disappointed that US, EU and United Nations sanctions relief provided so far under the nuclear deal has failed to spark an economic renaissance.

The Trump administration's wavering of the most punitive sanctions that it imposed on Iran before the deal was struck could be its way of trying to embolden the Rouhani camp. It also comes ahead of Trump's five-day trip to the region.

Also under USA sanctions hit the Iranian company Iranian Novini System Management.

The Treasury Department froze US assets belonging to the Iranian officials, Morteza Farasatpour and Rahim Ahmadi.

Lawrence Ward, a partner at worldwide law firm Dorsey & Whitney, said that the announcement by the State Department to continue the USA participation in the Iran nuclear deal is quite significant. Sherman said Israel was heavily involved in orchestrating the deal, calling Israel a "true partner" and the only "true democracy" in the Middle East.

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