U.S. State Department extends sanctions exemptions to several companies operating at Iranian nuclear sites

WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department will allow Russian, Chinese, and European companies to continue operating at Iranian nuclear sites as part of a 60-day renewal of sanctions exemptions against Tehran, the State Department said in a statement on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this year that Iran would never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, a message repeated by State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus yesterday.

Some sources have also said that Washington may extend the sanctions-busting exemption to Iran.

Morgan added that they will continue to closely monitor all developments of Iran’s nuclear program and the existing restrictions could be amended at any time.

In 2018, the Trump Administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposed new sanctions on Iran, including preventing non-U.S. companies from dealing with Iran’s atomic energy organization.

However, Washington has repeatedly granted exemptions from the sanctions regime, arguing that the sanctions are aimed at limiting the ability of Iran’s program to produce nuclear weapons and not the generation of nuclear power.

Washington accuses Iran of developing strategic weapons and supporting outside militias.

The Iranian government considers the U.S. sanctions as an effort to destabilize the country and seek the replacement of the existing regime. Iran has also said the U.S. sanctions are hurting its ability to combat the spreading of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and has asked other countries and the United Nations to lift the sanctions.