US extends waivers for Iran nuclear program, announces new sanctions

US extends waivers for Iran nuclear program, announces new sanctions
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The Trump administration on Thursday announced it was extending waivers for Iran to continue work at its nuclear facilities while also slapping new sanctions on Iranian officials.

Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, said the dual actions aim to increase transparency regarding Tehran’s purported peaceful nuclear activities and punish the agency accused of breaching the 2015 nuclear deal with European countries.

“The United States is renewing for 60 days, four nuclear restrictions on Iran that permit the continuation of non-proliferation projects that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities,” Hook told reporters at the State Department. “We will closely monitor all developments in Iran’s nuclear program and Secretary Pompeo will end these projects as developments warrant.”

The new sanctions, he said, will target the chief agency overseeing nuclear power and its top officer.

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“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has played a big role in Iran breaching its key nuclear commitments. It has exceeded the limits on its uranium stockpiles and enrichment levels,” Hook said.

Hook called on European nations to join the U.S. in its pressure campaign of sanctions.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE has asked the members of the nuclear deal, what’s left of it since it’s going to start expiring in 8 months, to join the United States and leave the deal and join our foreign policy strategy, which is working,” he said.

Hook on Thursday said the U.S. was “very pleased” by recent statements from U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who suggested replacing the existing nuclear deal with “the Trump deal.”

The three European members left in the 2015 deal — the U.K., France and Germany — have initiated the “dispute mechanism” of the agreement, which could lead to United Nations sanctions, in response to Iran’s announcement that it would stop adhering to limitations on producing enriched uranium.
 
Elements of the 2015 agreement are slated to begin expiring in the fall, such as a ban on arms sales and travel restrictions for senior Iranian officials.

The waiver extension and new sanctions come amid increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, and the waivers are an apparent departure from the Trump administration’s "maximum pressure" campaign that began after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Washington and Tehran narrowly avoided open warfare this month following the U.S. targeted killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general.
 
A retaliatory strike by Iran on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops was first described as limited for avoiding loss of life, but it was later revealed that an estimated 50 service members suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of the strikes.