US extends Iran sanctions relief, blacklists entities

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – The Trump administration on Thursday extended sanctions relief for Iran under a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers but issued 11 new economic penalties unrelated to the agreement.

“The administration did approve waivers in order to maintain some flexibility as it develops a policy to address the range of Iranian behavior,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

The Trump administration first extended sanctions in May.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), calling it one of the worst deal’s he’s ever seen and threatening to pull the U.S. out of the landmark accord.

Nauert said the decision to waive sanctions is not “an indication of President Trump or his administration’s position on the JCPOA, nor is the waiver giving the Iranian regime a pass on its broad range of malign behavior.”

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump repeated earlier claims that Iran is violating the “spirit” of the accord and said he will announce his decision on whether he will keep the U.S. in the agreement in October.

“We are not going to stand for what they’re doing to this country,” Trump said.

“They have violated so many different elements, but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal. And you will see what we’ll be doing in October. It will be very evident,” he added.

Even as the U.S. extended sanctions relief on Tehran, it blacklisted 11 entities for supporting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), or engaging in what the Treasury Department described as “malicious cyber-enabled activity” against the U.S.

They include two Ukraine-based entities that Treasury listed as Khors Air and Dart Airlines, which the department said aided Iran’s Caspian Air and Iraq’s Al-Naser Airlines in procuring U.S.-origin aircraft.

Caspian Air was designated in 2014 for helping the IRGC. Al-Naser Airlines was designated the following year for transferring aircraft to Iran’s Mahan Air, which is itself a designated airliner.