Pompeo approves sanctions exception for development of Iranian port to help Afghan economy

Pompeo approves sanctions exception for development of Iranian port to help Afghan economy

The Trump administration has approved a sanctions exemption for the development of Iran’s Chabahar Port, arguing the exemption will help grow Afghanistan’s economy.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump to speak with CIA about Khashoggi's murder Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Lawmakers struggle with how to punish Saudi Arabia | Trump regrets not visiting Arlington for Veterans Day | North Korea deports detained American Corker: 'A price needs to be paid' for Khashoggi's murder MORE signed off on the exception after the administration on Monday reimposed the last batch of sanctions that had previously been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

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“After extensive consideration, the secretary has provided for an exception from the imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (IFCA) with respect to the development of Chabahar Port and the construction of an associated railway and for the shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as Afghanistan’s continued imports of Iranian petroleum products,” a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday on background.

U.S. ally India considers the port a key strategic asset giving it access to Afghanistan while bypassing Pakistan, but the U.S. sanctions threatened its ability to obtain financing for its development project.

“The president’s South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India,” the State Department spokesperson added. “We seek to build on our close relationships with both countries as we execute a policy of maximum pressure to change the Iranian regime’s destabilizing policies in the region and beyond.”

India is also one of eight countries that received waivers for oil sanctions that were reimposed Monday. The others are China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

In May, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China. The Obama-era deal gave Tehran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

In addition to the reimposition of sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, Monday saw sanctions snapped back on Iran’s financial, shipping and shipbuilding sectors.

The administration billed Monday’s action, which saw 700 people, entities, ships and aircraft added to the U.S. sanctions list, as the “largest ever single day action targeting Iran.”

Trump is hoping the reimposition of sanctions brings Iran back to the negotiating table to hash out what he would consider a better deal.

But regional experts are skeptical since unlike the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table before, these sanctions are not backed by the international community.

The administration also issued sanctions waivers Monday for three civil nuclear projects in Iran, arguing the waivers are necessary for the United States to have continued visibility on the projects to ensure they don’t become used for illicit nuclear activities.

And contrary to the desire of conservatives, the administration is not pushing an international banking system known as SWIFT to expel all Iranian financial institutions. But it has warned SWIFT is subject to sanctions if it connects with designated institutions.