US renews sanction waivers on Iran

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2019 (Xinhua) — File photo taken on July 15, 2019 shows U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaking during a press briefing at the White House in Washington D.C., the United States. Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that discussions between the White House and Congress on raising the federal debt ceiling have made progress, and that the market shouldn’t be concerned about the government defaulting on its payment obligations. (Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)

Washington, March 31 (IANS) The US has renewed sanctions waivers on Iran, allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Citing officials, media reports said on Monday that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prevailed in an internal debate on the issue against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who opposed extending the waivers, reports Xinhua news agency.

Mnuchin believed that eliminating the waivers amid the coronavirus pandemic might draw criticism against the US, according to the reports.

Iran is among the countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the US has shown little willingness to ease its notorious “maximum pressure” against Tehran.

Earlier this month, the US Treasury blacklisted five United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based companies that facilitate Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical sales.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that the US has gone from waging an economic war on Iranians to “medical terror” amid the pandemic.

This even “exceeds what would be permissible on the battlefield”, he added.

Iran is the worst-hit country by the virus in the Middle East.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Monday reported a total of 41,495 coronavirus cases and 2,757 deaths.

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