Biden lifts sanctions on two Iranian missile producers

The Biden administration on Friday lifted sanctions on two Iranian entities involved in military missile programs.

The sanctions, targeting the Mammut Industrial Group (Mammut Industries) and its subsidiary Mammut Diesel, were originally imposed by the Trump administration in September 2020 as part of efforts to increase a maximum pressure campaign of sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activity and actions in the region criticized as malign and destabilizing.

The delisting appears to be related to legal proceedings on behalf of the law firm Ferrari & Associates.

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"Happy for the delisting of our clients today, and proud of all our team who worked on this. Don't listen to the hype from any purported "experts." This is not a political action, its one that followed established legal processes and norms," tweeted Erich Ferrari, founder and principal attorney of Ferrari & Associates.

Ferrari did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Hill.

Ferrari's bio on the firm's website lists Mammut Industrial Group and related parties as a client and that the firm has removed three of the five designees targeted under the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The entities were identified as being “key producers and suppliers of military-grade, dual-use goods for Iran’s missile programs.”

They are part of an estimated 1,500 sanctions imposed by the Trump administration since 2018, when then-President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE withdrew from the international nuclear accord with Iran, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The entities had been designated in 2020 as benefiting and providing support for “Iran’s primary developer of liquid propelled missiles,” according to the original Treasury Department news release announcing the sanctions. 

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A Treasury Spokesperson responded to a request for comment by the Hill on Friday saying that the deletion of the two entities, Mammut Industrial Group and Mammut Diesel, from the sanctions list “do not reflect any change in U.S. government sanctions policy towards Iran. They have nothing to do with JCPOA negotiation efforts. The United States will continue to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities, including through implementation of our sanctions.”

The spokesperson did not address whether they had determined that the Mammut industries had stopped providing support for Iran’s missile industry. 

The Biden administration is seeking to restart indirect talks with Iran in Vienna over efforts to bring both parties back to the JCPOA. 

The Biden administration says that the JCPOA is the best chance at putting a ceiling on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and preventing it from building a nuclear bomb. Iran maintains its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes but have exceeded limitations on uranium enrichment and research and development put in place by the deal in opposition to the U.S. sanctions. 

The New York Times reported last month that Iran may be within a month’s timeline of creating enough material to power a nuclear weapon. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international nuclear watchdog, also reported last month that restrictions on its ability to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities was “seriously compromising” its ability to monitor Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA limitations. 

The U.S. and Iran last engaged in discussions in Vienna in June but have yet to resume talks over a host of disagreements and delays. This includes Iran’s insistence that the U.S. lift all sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and delays over the transition to a new government headed by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. 

Iranian officials in recent days have said they would return to Vienna “soon,” but the ongoing delays have frustrated Biden officials.

“We hope their definition of soon matches our definition of soon,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

“We would like negotiations to resume in Vienna as soon as possible. We have been saying this not for weeks now, but for months now.”

This story was updated at 5:50 p.m.