Rouhani gets a boost from U.S. sanctions waiver ahead of election

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The United States has sanctioned two Iranian defence officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese individual and a group of Chinese firms due to their support for Iran's ballistic missile programme, according to a US Treasury Department statement on Wednesday.

Ghasemi said Iran would retaliate by adding nine U.S. individuals and companies to its own sanctions list, accusing them of "clear violations of human rights" in relation to their support for Israel or "terrorist groups" in the Middle East.

While extending sanctions relief for Iran under the nuclear deal, the Treasury Department separately announced it had imposed sanctions on two Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese national and three Chinese companies for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program.

The election will occur just before Trump leaves on an eight-day trip to Europe and the Middle East, with his first stop in Saudi Arabia, a bitter regional rival of Iran.

The United States claims that Iran's missile tests violated Resolution 2231, which was adopted in July 2015 to endorse the nuclear agreement. He was sanctioned for his involvement in Iran's solid-fuel ballistic missile programme.

So as long as the deal is in place, we will be kept in the dark about everything in it.

The administration of U.S. president Donald Trump chose to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions on Wednesday despite its criticism of the agreement.

"This administration is committed to countering Iran's destabilizing behavior, such as Iran's development of ballistic missiles and support to the Assad regime", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

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The dual moves - ensuring old sanctions on Iran don't return while imposing new ones - appeared aimed at undercutting the impression that Trump's stance on Iran has softened since he took office.

In a retaliation move, Iran added nine Americans and companies to its own list of 15 US companies for human rights violations and cooperation with Israel.

Trump during his campaign had derided the nuclear deal as the worst he had ever seen and said he would reconsider it, but unlike other Republican primary candidates, he did not say he would scrap it.

At the same time, the USA retains sanctions against Iran on the missile program, human rights and on suspicion that Tehran sponsors terrorism.

Trump has harshly criticized the Iran deal, suggesting that former Secretary of State John Kerry could have walked away from negotiations and gotten more concessions from Iran.

Yet the Trump administration has not fallen short of coming up with new threats and accusations against the Islamic Republic, with Tillerson claiming Iran's nuclear program poses "a grave risk to global peace and security". "Yet, the administration continues to stand in the way of what is legitimate trade with Iran, which the agreement obligates the United States not to do", said Trita Parsi, President of the organization.

Information for this article was contributed by Josh Lederman of The Associated Press and by Carol Morello of The Washington Post.

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