Iran blasted the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to sanction nine “individuals and entities” yesterday for “their support of Iranian government sanctions evasion efforts and human rights-related abusers,” saying that doing so violated “the good will principles” engendered by the ongoing nuclear negotiations and Joint Plan of Actions (JPOA), Reuters reported today.
Iran said the U.S. move contradicted the spirit of the nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers known as “P5+1″ – the United States, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain.
“At a time negotiations are underway with P5+1, such a move raises doubts about America’s intentions and violates the good will principles,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, emphasized that the sanctions designations were made in response to Iranian violations of existing sanctions. “Although we do not support the imposition of any new nuclear-related sanctions while negotiations are ongoing, throughout the JPOA period we have made clear, by word and deed, that we will continue to enforce our existing sanctions. Today’s actions underscore this commitment,” he said in a statement.
Yesterday’s designations came at the same time Iran signed a sanctions-busting energy agreement with an Italian company. The weakening of sanctions – both due to concessions made during the course of negotiations and due to Iranian violations – have eroded the West’s leverage in its nuclear negotiations with Iran. For a year, the expectation of sanctions relief has prompted Western businesses to seek to establish commercial ties with Iranian companies. The expansion in Iran’s economy since the signing of the JPOA has raised questions as to how limited sanctions relief has been.
Over the course of the JPOA Iran has failed to account for its past nuclear research, one of the commitments it made in the agreement. In November, prior to the seven-month extension of the JPOA, the IAEA reported that Iran had violated the accord by testing an advanced centrifuge. Earlier this month, the United States accused Iran of “proliferation-sensitive procurement” for its heavy-water reactor in Arak in violation of the JPOA.
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