New US Sanctions Denounced

New US Sanctions DenouncedNew US Sanctions Denounced

The foreign ministry on Wednesday denounced the inclusion of nine new targets in the list of anti-Iran sanctions, saying the move is in contravention of the Geneva interim nuclear deal.  

"Tehran denounces imposition of sanctions on a number of companies and individuals under the pretext that they played a role in purchasing sanctioned items, and maintains that such measures violate the spirit of good faith promised under the Joint Plan of Action," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham said at her regular press briefing on Wednesday, Fars News Agency reported.

Iran and the six major powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) clinched a preliminary nuclear deal in Geneva in November 2013, which is officially called the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA).

They are now in talks to reach a comprehensive agreement to resolve the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear program by a June 30 target date.

The United States imposed sanctions on nine new targets on Tuesday, claiming the entities and companies targeted had supported Iran's efforts to avoid sanctions or backed the government's alleged human rights abuses, including censorship.

  Spurious Charges

Afkham also said in response to a question about reports of a proposed prisoner exchange between Iran and the US that the foreign ministry has received "no formal request on that issue."

She added 15 Iranian citizens have been charged in connection with anti-Iran sanctions while 70 others have been jailed "on other spurious charges and are kept in US prisons under inhumane conditions."

She expressed hope that the Iranian citizens who are incarcerated in the US on false charges of violating anti-Iran sanctions could be repatriated very soon.  

On Monday, the defense lawyer for Iranian-American citizen Amir Hekmati, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence on a conviction of espionage in Iran for the US spy agency, said Washington has asked Tehran to exchange his client with several Iranians detained in the United States. The US State Department, however, denied the report.

Afkham noted that on the fringes of nuclear talks between Iranian and US diplomats there have been discussions about Iranian citizens who are imprisoned in the US. She added, "The foreign ministry is following their case through different channels."

The spokesperson also touched on the reopening of the UK Embassy in Tehran and said, "It is following its normal course … and talks should continue until certain formalities will be completed."

In November 2011, Britain cut its ties with Tehran and withdrew its diplomatic staff from Iran and ordered the staff at the Iranian Embassy in London to leave the country. The move came after an angry group stormed the UK Embassy in Tehran to protest Britain's policy on Iran. Nearly two years later in October 2013, and following the election of President Hassan Rouhani, the two countries agreed to appoint non-resident chargés d’affaires as a first step toward reopening their embassies.

In response to a question about Russia's efforts to host a new round of peace talks between Damascus and the Syrian opposition, she said, "Tehran has already held discussions on that issue with the Russians. We do believe that the crisis would be resolved when all parties (to the Syrian crisis) want to end the crisis and move in that direction while taking into account the sovereignty of Syria and demands of the Syrian people. We hope this plan could help end the conflict and bring peace to Syria."