America extends civil nuclear cooperation waivers for Iran
Washington DC: The Trump administration is keeping alive one of the last remaining components of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by extending sanctions waivers that allow foreign companies to work with Iran's civilian nuclear program without US penalties.
The waivers had been due to expire Tuesday but were extended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for another 90 days. Pompeo has been a champion of President Donald Trump's maximum pressure campaign on Iran.
Trump withdrew last year from the nuclear deal and has steadily ramped up sanctions on Iran, but the waivers will permit European, Russian and Chinese companies to continue to work at Iranian civilian nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile, The United States on Thursday extended its sanctions on Iran by taking aim at its construction sector, which Washington linked to the country's Revolutionary Guards.
The sanctions, it said, would also target "four strategic materials as being used in connection with Iran's nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed the sanctions after the construction sector was identified as "being controlled directly or indirectly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
Iranian tensions with the United States have escalated sharply since US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions.
Tehran has hit back by suspending its compliance with parts of the nuclear deal until sanctions relief is restored.
The latest sanctions "will help preserve oversight of Iran's civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran's ability to shorten its 'breakout time' to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes," Ortagus said.