US President Donald Trump has moved to remove US sanctions on banks and other financial institutions linked to Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
The move is the latest in a series of moves by the US to undermine the nuclear deal and pressure Tehran to comply with US demands that it curb its nuclear activities.
The White House said on Monday that it was withdrawing all US sanctions against Tehran’s central bank and the Central Bank of Iran, two institutions that the US alleges were involved in facilitating the missile programme during the last years of the previous administration.
Trump’s decision to move to scrap sanctions on Iran is in response to the international community’s condemnation of the nuclear agreement, which he says has been a “bad deal”.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was in Tehran last week, said in a statement that the “United States will not be a party to a nuclear deal that does not advance US interests and the security of the United States and its allies”.
US officials say the move will make it easier for US companies to raise capital in Iran and would make it harder for Iran to finance its ballistic missile program.
Iran’s foreign ministry said on Twitter that Trump’s action was a “sad step”.
The move came amid a broader global backlash against the Iran nuclear deal, which the US and many other countries say has failed to rein in Tehran’s ballistic missiles programme and undermine its international standing.
Trump has repeatedly said he would withdraw the US from the deal if he became president.
The Iran nuclear agreement was signed by the Obama administration and implemented by Iran, which has rejected the nuclear pact and accuses the West of undermining its sovereignty.
Iran and the US have been negotiating a comprehensive deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme for 10 years, and the talks began to yield results after Iran completed a landmark deal in November.
But Iran has not yet achieved a deal that could be implemented in a Trump administration, and many Western nations are concerned about the possibility that the president would reverse course on the nuclear accord.
In September, the US Treasury Department announced it was taking steps to “pursue additional sanctions” against individuals and entities tied to Iran.
The US Treasury said on Friday that it had decided to target institutions that are currently involved in “providing financial services to entities in Iran”.
The sanctions included those linked to the bank, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce.
US sanctions also targeted Iran’s central banks, and US companies that do business with Iran’s state-owned banks.
US banks have a longstanding reputation for helping to finance the proliferation of ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
The sanctions are not expected to have a significant impact on the Iranian economy, since Iran’s economy is based largely on oil revenues.
Iran is currently seeking to boost its oil exports by at least $30bn over the next three years.
Iran has been struggling to recover from the global economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and other governments in retaliation for the country’s disputed 2009 election.
The new sanctions come as Iran has struggled to regain the trust of the international and regional community after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia suspended direct ties with the country.
The UAE and Saudi were among Iran’s most important allies during the US-led sanctions campaign.