Iran sanctions 9 American firms as countermeasure


US President Donald Trump yesterday extended wide sanctions relief for Iran called for under a 2015 worldwide nuclear deal even as he imposed the new penalties.

"As we continue to closely scrutinize Iran's commitment to the JCPOA and develop a comprehensive Iran policy, we will continue to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses with new actions", acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones said in Wednesday's statement.

The new sanctions designate seven entities, including two top Iranian defense officials and a China-based network that supplies material to Iran's missile program. The U.S. says the program is a breach of worldwide law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future. The reviewing whether to continue honoring what President Donald Trump has called "the terrible Iran deal".

Since Mr Trump's inauguration, his administration has also continued to certify to Congress that Iran is upholding its part of the deal, which it must do every 90 days.

The State Department also released a new report criticizing Iran for human rights abuses.

Speaking to the Tasnim News Agency on Thursday, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said members of the influential parliamentary commission will convene a session to address the fresh United States sanctions.

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Meanwhile, former US Secretary of State John Kerry and national security experts from the administration of former President Barack Obama have thrown their weight behind a newly formed organization called "Diplomacy Works", which aims to which aims defend the nuclear deal.

The Trump administration won't seek to reduce Iran's crude sales "at this time" in keeping with its commitments under the nuclear deal, according to the announcement.

The US decision to stick by the nuclear deal with Iran, despite new sanctions on its missile programme, provided welcome news for President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday, a day before his bid for re-election. The same was done for Chinese national Ruan Runling and three associated businesses, along with the Iranian company Matin Sanat Nik Andishan.

President Donald Trump has demanded a review of the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, raising concern that Washington might unilaterally pull out of an accord backed by six key world powers.

Iran denies ever seeking nuclear weapons and foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said yesterday its missile program is part of its "absolute and legal right to build up the country's defensive capabilities".

Richard Nephew, a former U.S. negotiator with Iran now at Columbia University, called the renewal an "important step" in maintaining the deal but said it was still threatened by "congressional pressure, Republican politics, and the views of many people" in the Trump administration.