Hours after acknowledging that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal, the Trump administration on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Tehran over its ballistic missiles programme.
The White House informed Congress late on Monday that Iran has continued to follow the deal it signed with the United States and five other world powers in 2015. The agreement required Tehran to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions that had crippled the Iranian economy.
But on Tuesday, the US State Department said it was imposing new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme and its alleged support for terrorist groups in the Middle East.
“The administration today announces that it has designated 18 entities and individuals supporting Iran’s ballistic missile programme,” the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert told journalists in Washington.
Move follows admission by Trump administration that Iran is complying with nuclear accord
These entities were also “supporting Iran’s military procurement or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organisation and associated persons”, she claimed.
The State Department named Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad among the groups that it said received support from Iran and were a threat to Israel and stability in the Middle East.
The State Department accused Iran of maintaining “its steadfast support for the Assad regime, despite Assad’s atrocities against his own people”.
The announcement claimed that Iran also “continues to provide the Houthi rebels in Yemen with advanced weaponry that threatens freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, has been used to attack Saudi Arabia, and is prolonging the Yemen conflict”.
The State Department claimed that Iran has continued to test and develop ballistic missiles, in direct defiance of UN Security Council resolutions opposing such tests.
Like the White House, the State Department acknowledged that Iran’s “full implementation” of the nuclear deal “positively contribute(s) to regional and international peace and security”. But it said that “Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever positive contributions to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge” from the 2015 agreement.
On Monday night the Trump administration told Congress that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal but warned that there would be consequences for breaching “the spirit” of the deal.
Trump officials said the administration was working with US allies to fix the deal’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more.
The administration, however, informed Congress that it would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalising it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity.
Those “malign activities” included support for terrorism, the Washington Post reported. The Trump administration had judged that these alleged Iranian activities “severely undermine the intent” of the nuclear deal as a force for international stability, the report added.
President Donald Trump had vowed to dismantle the agreement while he was a presidential candidate, but announced after his election that he would respect all international deals signed by the previous administration.
However, he also demanded some time to determine if the deal could achieve its objectives and suited US national interests.