US imposes new limits on Iran's nuclear activities - UPDATED
The Trump administration renewed five of seven sanctions waivers that allow Russia and European nations to conduct civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran but revoked the other two as part of its pressure campaign against Tehran, the US State Department said, APAreports citing Tasnim.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended the waivers, which were due to expire Saturday, for 90 days, shorter than the 180 days that had been granted in the past, according to AP.
The waivers permit work at several Iranian nuclear sites to continue without US penalties. Under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, Russia and several European nations help maintain the facilities.
Facilities included in the waiver extensions include the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Fordow enrichment facility, the Arak nuclear complex and the Tehran Research Reactor, the US State Department said.
However, the Bushehr waiver is being tightened so that any assistance to expand the plant could incur sanctions.
The other two waivers — one that allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman, and one that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia — were not renewed, the department said. That decision is aimed at forcing Iran to stop enriching uranium, something it was allowed to do up to certain limits under the nuclear deal, it said.
“Iran must stop all proliferation-sensitive activities, including uranium enrichment, and we will not accept actions that support the continuation of such enrichment,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal last year, re-imposed sanctions that had been eased in November and has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran in the months since.
Last month, his administration announced it would no longer renew sanctions exemptions that allowed China, India, Japan, Turkey and South Korea to continue importing Iranian oil. Those waivers expired Friday.
Kenneth Katzman, an Iran expert at the Congressional Research Service, said on Friday, “Revoking these waivers, you’re basically almost preventing the other JCPOA parties from providing the peaceful nuclear technical assistance that is the basis of Iran’s nuclear commitments".
The United States may impose sanctions against actors providing assistance to expand Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant starting on May 4, US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a press release on Friday, APAreports citing Sputniknews.
"Starting May 4, assistance to expand Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit could be sanctionable," the release said.
Iran reached a deal with Russia on the first stage of the Bushehr project — the Bushehr 1 — in 1992. Russia and Iran signed an agreement in 2014 to build the second and third reactors for the Bushehr plant.
he press release says that the United States will no longer permit storage for Iran of heavy water in excess of limits related to its nuclear program.
"We will also no longer permit the storage for Iran of heavy water it has produced in excess of current limits; any such heavy water must no longer be available to Iran in any fashion," the release said on Friday.
US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus also said that the United States calls on Iran to stop all proliferation-sensitive actives and warned Tehran that transferring enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for natural uranium could be sanctionable.
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