New US Sanctions Prompt Reciprocal Action

New US  Sanctions Prompt Reciprocal ActionNew US  Sanctions Prompt Reciprocal Action

Iran added nine US individuals and entities to its list of sanctions for human rights violations and cooperation with Israel on Thursday, a tit-for-tat to the fresh US sanctions announced a day earlier.

That list had already targeted 15 US companies on March 26 in retaliation for a barrage of unilateral US sanctions at the time.

In his latest anti-Iran move on Wednesday, hawkish US President Donald Trump imposed narrow penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures for contributing to Iran's ballistic missile program, even as he extended wide sanctions relief for Iran required under the 2015 nuclear deal.

"In response to the illegal move by the US administration … the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a reciprocal move, adds nine persons and firms to [its list of sanctions]," the Foreign Ministry announced in a statement carried by Iranian media.

The statement noted that the new sanctions targets "have a proven record of direct or indirect assistance to inhumane crimes of the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestine and the regime's terrorist actions in support of takfiri terrorism and … its acts against the national security of the Islamic Republic."

They included two senior Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese man and three Chinese companies, Reuters reported.

A takfiri is a hardliner who accuses any Muslim that does not follow their extreme interpretation of Islam as apostate punishable by death.

***Ill Intentions

The ministry's statement came after its spokesperson, Bahram Qasemi, said the new US sanctions highlight Washington's "ill will" and could undermine the nuclear accord between Tehran and the six major powers.

"Iran condemns America's unacceptable ill will in its effort to undermine the positive outcome of Tehran's commitment to implement the nuclear deal by adding individuals to its list of unilateral and illegal sanctions," Qasemi said.

Iran held a presidential election on Friday that pitted incumbent Hassan Rouhani's policy of greater social-economic freedom and openness to the world against the conservative agenda that has low tolerance for any amount of engagement with hostile western countries.

Conservative challengers have railed against the nuclear pact which was negotiated under his watch, claiming it has not delivered economic recovery as Rouhani promised.

Rouhani had hoped to capitalize on the sanctions relief Iran secured under the pact to jumpstart the stunted domestic economy and ensure his reelection for the next four-year term.

However, remaining, unilateral US sanctions imposed over Iran's record on ballistic missiles and alleged human right abuses and support for terrorism have scared many would-be foreign investors seen as indispensable to reviving an economy fresh out of years of severe nuclear sanctions.

Trump, who took office in January, has harshly criticized the deal, arguing that his predecessor Barack Obama should have driven a harder bargain during the nuclear talks.

Since taking office, he has imposed a raft of new sanctions on individuals and entities linked to Iran's missile program and regional activities.

His administration acknowledged last month that the Islamic Republic was complying with the nuclear restrictions but said it was launching an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the US national security interests.

It had until Friday to decide whether to renew the nuclear sanctions relief for a maximum of 120 days.

US partners, namely Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, appear to be in full agreement over the need to keep the international deal intact and alive and oppose Trump's call for a full review.

***Chinese Grievance

Trump's new sanctions also prompted a complaint from China's government on Thursday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Beijing followed local rules and regulations and closely adhered to its responsibilities to the international community.

"China is opposed to the blind use of unilateral sanctions particularly when it damages the interests of third parties. I think the sanctions are unhelpful in enhancing mutual trust and unhelpful for international efforts on this issue," she told a daily news briefing.

"China has lodged representations with the United States and hopes the US side can, on the principle of mutual respect, resolve non-proliferation issues through dialogue and communication," Hua added.

Iran's Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission is weighing a separate response to the US move, its spokesperson Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said.

Speaking to Tasnim News Agency on Thursday, the lawmaker said the influential parliamentary panel will soon convene to address the issue.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints