Thursday, 23 November, 2017

U.S. says Iran complying with 2015 n

Preston Stone | 19 July, 2017, 00:12

The Trump administration is slapping new sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals, groups and networks over non-nuclear behavior such as support for ballistic missiles development.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran's malign activities across the Middle East, which undermine regional stability, security and prosperity", it added.

The sanctions freeze any assets the blacklisted targets might have in the USA and block Americans from doing business with them.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday blacklisted 18 individuals and entities for supporting Iran's military and Revolutionary Guards Corps, accusing them of trying to build ballistic missiles and steal USA computer software and of harassing US naval vessels.

The economic penalties target at least 16 individuals and entities the Treasury Department said have supported "illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity".

The White House has admitted Tehran is in compliance with the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement - which President Trump called the "worst deal ever" - but claimed Iran is still undermining the intent of the accord and poses a threat to the region.

Trump had repeatedly condemned the nuclear deal brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama as a unsafe capitulation to Iran.

Zarif said they would discuss Iran's complaint that the United States has not been complying with its part of the deal by failing to lift all sanctions against Iran.

Zarif said he has not as yet spoken with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is reviewing US policy toward Iran, but he is open to doing so.

Washington's sanctions announcement came hours after the Iranian parliament voted overwhelmingly for $520 million in new funding for the country's missile program and Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, to combat what it said was Washington's "adventurism" in the Middle East.

As Eli Lake reported in Bloomberg, since the Iran deal was signed in 2015, every few months the State Department would certify that Iran was complying with the deal.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Monday that Trump "has been very consistent with the fact that he thought it was a bad deal".

President Donald Trump has in the past bashed the nuclear deal, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, and he took office promising to re-evaluate or possibly kill the agreement.

"Iran remains one of the most unsafe threats to United States interests and regional stability", the official said.

Administration officials tell us that this recertification is pro forma, a congressionally mandated box-checking that buys the White House time to complete a comprehensive policy review.

"We're in a period where we're going to be working with our allies to explore options for addressing the JCPOA's flaws, which there are many", the official said.

Meanwhile, the grassroots disarmament organization Peace Action wrote on Thursday that the Iran deal should be held up as a model for diplomacy, as the US weighs its options in handling growing concerns over North Korea's nuclear capabilities-thus far, imposing sanctions and refusing to participate in talks with North Korea.

Trump vowed to dismantle the historic agreement while he was a candidate, but he's given himself more time to determine whether to follow through on that pledge. But many congressional Republicans and the Israeli government have opposed the deal, saying it won't stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb or curb its destabilizing activities in the region.

President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an global nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a planned announcement as a legal deadline loomed.

Iran has not yet commented on the latest measures.

Those sanctioned had backed Iran's military or Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components, the USA said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that he hopes Yemen's war will not spark direct confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and that they can work together to end the conflict in the country and Syria.

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