Trump granting sanctions waivers to three Iranian civil nuclear projects

Trump granting sanctions waivers to three Iranian civil nuclear projects
© iStock

The Trump administration is granting sanctions waivers to continue conversion work at three Iranian nuclear facilities as it reimposes sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa Senators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis State Department believes missing U.S. journalist is alive in Syria: report MORE said Monday.

“We have decided to grant narrow and temporary waivers that permit continuation of three nonproliferation projects currently underway,” Pompeo said Monday during a press briefing. “Allowing these activities to continue for the time being will improve ongoing oversight of Iran’s civil nuclear program and make these facilities less susceptible to illicit and illegal nuclear uses. Rest assured, Iran will never come close to getting a nuclear weapon.”

Monday marks the reimposition of the last batch of sanctions being snapped back as a result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE’s May decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions target Iran’s energy, financial, shipping and shipbuilding sectors.

The Obama-era nuclear deal gave Iran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The agreement was between the United States, Iran, Russia, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Monday’s action saw the penalties imposed on more than 700 people and entities, including 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 people and ships, Iran’s state-run airline Iran Air and more than 65 of its planes, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Amazon taps New York, Northern Virginia for new offices | What it means for the DC area | Dems target vulnerable commerce chief | Earmarks look to be making a comeback New IRS chief to make updating agency technology a priority Trade discussions resume between US, China MORE said alongside Pompeo.

Pompeo also confirmed Monday the eight countries the United States is granting waivers to for oil sanctions: China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

Pompeo said the oil sanctions waivers, which by law will last six months, are needed to give those countries more time to reduce their imports from Iran to zero while not disrupting the global oil markets.

During the six-month period, the money from those oil sales will be held in an escrow account to ensure the revenue is used for humanitarian and other non-sanctioned activities, Pompeo said.

On the waivers for civil nuclear programs, Pompeo confirmed that the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is one the projects and said the other two will be named in a fact sheet later. The outdated technology at Bushehr has the international community fearing potential a nuclear disaster.

“What we’ve authorized is very narrow, very limited, very time-limited, as well, but important nonetheless that these nonproliferation projects are not things that are taking place without some ability to see what’s going on,” Pompeo said.

A State Department fact sheet released Monday afternoon confirmed the other two projects are at Arak, which is home to a heavy water reactor, and Fordow, a fuel enrichment facility.

The waivers allow the United States and partners to "to reduce the proliferation risks at Arak, maintain safe oversight of operations at Bushehr, limit Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites such as Fordow for proliferation-sensitive purposes," the fact sheet said.

The Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions has expectedly come under criticism from those who supported the nuclear deal.

The action, though, has also drawn some heat from those on the right because of the waivers, as well as a decision to not force an international banking system known as SWIFT to fully expel Iranian financial institutions

Responding to that reaction, Pompeo on Sunday said that “no one’s going to argue” he and Trump are not tough on Iran.

Iran, for its part, reacted Monday with President Hassan Rouhani saying his country is facing a "war situation.”

“We are in the war situation,” Rouhani said, according to the Associated Press. “We are in the economic war situation. We are confronting a bullying enemy. We have to stand to win.”

Updated at 2:59 p.m.