Report: US temporarily lifts sanctions on Iranian state broadcaster

The Obama administration on Thursday temporarily removed sanctions on Iran’s state broadcaster, according to The Associated Press

According to an official cited by the newswire, “harmful satellite interference” was no longer coming out of Iran to block foreign channels — a charge leveled against the broadcaster when the sanctions were first put in place a year ago.

Separately, a number of foreign companies around the world that have violated Iran sanctions were also penalized by the Treasury Department on Thursday, the AP notes. 

The announcement comes ahead of negotiations on a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The waiving of the broadcast sanctions are separate from some sanction restrictions that were lifted as part of an interim deal between Iran, the United States and other members of the United Nations Security Council.

The United States will reassess the broadcast sanctions in two months, but the official described the plan as a 180-day waiver. 

The broadcasting sanctions against Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting were put in place by the Treasury Department last February as part of a larger package. Sanctions were levied against the broadcasting director as well.

At the time, the U.S. accused Iran of jamming foreign channels after the 2009 Iranian elections, including the BBC and Voice of America. The jamming increased during the Arab Spring, in what the Treasury Department called an attempt to “prevent audiences from seeing foreign broadcasts that the Iranian government found objectionable.” 

In 2013, the U.S. also alleged the broadcast company used state media to trample dissent, pointing to reports from human rights groups that the broadcaster distorted news reports and aired forced confessions from political prisoners.