WASHINGTON: The United States said on Thursday it had imposed sanctions on the Iranian construction sector and trade in four materials used in its military or nuclear programs, even as it waived sanctions to let foreign firms continue non-proliferation work in Iran.
The decisions announced by the U.S. State Department reflect an effort to increase pressure on Iran by putting wider swaths of its economy under sanctions, while leaving a door open to diplomacy by allowing work to proceed at Iranian nuclear facilities that makes it harder for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.
President Donald Trump’s administration last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions that crippled its economy.
The administration has since restored and tightened U.S. sanctions to try to force Iran to negotiate a broader deal that would also limit its ballistic missile program and regional activities.
The State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had determined Iran’s construction sector was controlled directly or indirectly by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which Washington regards as a foreign terrorist organization.
As a result, the sale of raw and semi-finished metals, graphite, coal, and software for integrating industrial purposes will be sanctionable if the materials are to be used in Iran’s construction sector, the department said in a fact sheet.
In a second determination, Pompeo identified four “strategic materials” as being used in connection with nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs, making trade in them subject to sanctions.
The fact sheet identified the materials as: “stainless steel 304L tubes; MN40 manganese brazing foil; MN70 manganese brazing foil; and stainless steel CrNi60WTi ESR + VAR (chromium, nickel, 60 percent tungsten, titanium, electro-slag remelting, vacuum arc remelting).”
In a separate statement, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the determinations gave Washington the ability “to prevent Iran from acquiring strategic materials for the IRGC, its construction sector, and its proliferation programs.”
Reuters reported on Wednesday that the United States planned to allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to make it harder for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
The Trump administration would let the work go forward by issuing waivers to sanctions that bar non-U.S. firms from dealing with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
A source familiar with the matter said on Thursday that the State Department had indeed renewed the waivers for 90 days.
The work to continue includes redesigning Iran’s heavy water Arak research reactor to render it unable to make bomb-grade plutonium under normal operation and modification of centrifuges at Iran’s Fordow fuel enrichment plant, the source said.
The waivers also cover support for Iran’s existing nuclear reactor at Bushehr, the provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor and the transfer of spent and scrap nuclear fuel out of Iran, the source added.
Chinese state-owned China National Nuclear Corp has done non-proliferation work at Arak, and Russia’s Rosatom has done it at Fordow as well as provided uranium fuel to Iran.
Responding to Reuters’ story that the waivers were to be renewed, a China National Nuclear Corp spokesman said by email that it was “starting to cooperate with the Iranian side under guidance from Beijing on seeking a positive solution to the Iran nuclear problem.” It did not give further details.
When Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal last year, he began a “maximum pressure” campaign designed to force Iran to return to the negotiating table.
Iran has demanded the United States first resume complying with the 2015 deal.
France has sought to bring the two into talks but has so far failed, suggesting neither is willing to abandon core elements of policy – the U.S. belief that pressure will bring Iran to its knees, and Iran’s refusal to capitulate to U.S. duress.
like state. “We have to follow the principles of state of Madina,” PM Imran said.
Speaking about the natural beauty of Gilgit-Baltistan, he said the region was matchless in the world. He said many tourist spots have been opened in the area to promote tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan which he said was the gateway of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan addressing a large gathering in Gilgit, gathered to celebrate the region’s independence from Dogra rule said that he was filled with pride after getting here. PM Imran Khan said that Gilgit-Baltistan had strategic and historic significance, it had always been the bridge between the sub-continent (Pakistan) and China.
“Narendra Modi has played his final card in Kashmir, whenever the curfew is lifted, a sea of people will pour out on the streets to demand and take justice from the evil clutches of Indian government, no power on earth can take away freedom from the Kashmiris now,” said Khan. PM Khan thanked the people of Gilgit Baltistan and the Pakistan Armed Forces for their valor and tremendous sacrifice to make the dream of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a reality.
Directing his attention toward the Maulana Fazlur Rehman lead ‘Azadi March’, the Prime Minister said that him and the people of Gilgit were gathered to celebrate independence while those that sought ‘Azadi’ are out on the roads in Islamabad with no defined motives.
PM Imran Khan added that ‘Jews did not need to conspire against Pakistan as long as Maulana existed’.
“Indian media is overjoyed at the ‘Azadi March’, they are hailing Fazlur Rehman as if he was an Indian citizen,” said Khan.
Khan reiterated his stance on the notion of NRO saying: “Those that think that they can suppress or corner me with pressure tactics for an NRO are living in a fool’s paradise, there is absolutely no possibility of an NRO, whatsoever, they remain in fear that they too would be held accountable for their ill-gotten wealth.” PM Khan, in conclusion thanked the people of Gilgit Baltistan and the Pakistan Armed Forces for their valor and tremendous sacrifice to make the dream of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a reality. The 72nd independence day of Gilgit is being celebrated in Gilgit-Baltistan with traditional zeal and fervor today.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday reiterated the support of the government and people of Pakistan to the Kashmiris waging struggle against the Indian oppression and said being an ambassador of the Kashmir cause he would continue to internationalise their just case.
“I am your ambassador and spokesman of Kashmir, and I will be the advocate of your cause in the world,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said here at the Azadi Parade at the Agha Khan Polo Stadium, marking Gilgit’s independence from Dogra Raj.
The Prime Minister who arrived here on a day-long visit said the Indian prime minister had played his last card on August 5 and said as soon as the Indian forces lift the curfew in the occupied Kashmir, a sea of people would rise to strive for their freedom from the Indian yoke. “No power can stop the Kashmiris from attaining their goal of liberation,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said. He said basically it was the “fear” that makes a person subservient to others, however the Muslims by their very nature feared none but Allah and does his best to uphold the truth.
“Such a person does not beg anyone and we are trying to make our nation self sufficient on these very principles,” Khan said and added that it was the reason that he was a strong advocate for emulating the social welfare state of Medina. He said only by pursing the principles of justice and equality, this country can make progress.
He said he was proud to join the people of Gilgit on their freedom day and said the people of Gilgit must be thankful to the Allah Almighty that they were not experiencing the same sufferings as the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir were witnessing right now.
Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded the sacrifices of the Northern Light Infantry and the freedom fighters of 1947 – 1948.
He said he had visited the most scenic places of the world, but was yet to find a place better than the magnificent beauty of Gilgit Baltistan. He said his government was focusing on promotion of tourism in this area and was optimist that it would boost the economy of this region.
Khan mentioned his tourism policy under which the government allowed waived off visa for 70 countries along with NOC requirements for foreigners who wished to see Pakistan’s scenically rich northern areas. He said this area would also get a big boost in economy as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor would be passing through Gilgit Baltistan. He said the people of the region would get jobs with the increased economic activity.