Trump extends sanction relief as Iranians go to the polls

48 hours before today’s Iranian presidential elections US President Donald Trump announced an  extension to the sanctions relief first introduced in 2015 – while simultaneously imposing narrow penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.
The dual actions, announced by the Departments of State and Treasury, appear to be designed  to signal a tough stance on Iran even as Trump continued his predecessor President Barack Obama’s pact under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
“The United States continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing U.S. sanctions-lifting commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the State Department said in a statement, referring to the deal by its formal name.
In a separate move, the Treasury Department said it had sanctioned two senior Iranian defence officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese man and three Chinese companies for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. The order blocks any assets they might have in the US and bars Americans and non-Americans from doing business with them, at the risk of being blacklisted.
Today’s elections are the first to be held in Iran since the nuclear deal heralded the lifting of sanctions two years ago, and is generally being viewed as a referendum on Hassan Rouhani’s relatively moderate policies, which made the  accord possible despite opposition from hard-liners; and with most of Iran’s 56 million eligible yet to have seen the economic benefits of the deal, the 68-year-old cleric vis facing a staunch challenge from  hard-line opponents, with the 56-year-old Ebraham Raisi expected to run him the closest.

Source: reuters