US extends waivers on Iran sanctions amid coronavirus pandemic

US extends waivers on Iran sanctions amid coronavirus pandemic
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The State Department has moved to extend waivers for U.S. and foreign companies doing business in Iran to assist that country with its civilian nuclear program.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press that several waivers had been extended, while sharply criticizing the Iranian government's efforts to expand nuclear enrichment.

“Iran’s continued expansion of nuclear activities is unacceptable. The regime’s nuclear extortion is among the greatest threats to international peace and security,” the spokeswoman said.

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The decision was reportedly opposed during internal debates by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? MORE, but others in the Trump administration including Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE argued that the extensions were necessary due to criticism the U.S. has faced for the effect that U.S. sanctions have had on Iran's efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Iranian officials have demanded that U.S. sanctions implemented after the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement be relaxed in recent days, accusing the sanctions of stifling Iran's ability to obtain basic medical supplies amid the outbreak of the coronavirus.

"US has gone from sabotage & assassinations to waging an economic war & #EconomicTerrorism on Iranians—to #MedicalTerror amidst #covid19iran. This even 'exceeds what would be permissible on the battlefield,' " tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.