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Trump administration imposes new sanctions on Iranian company

Dec 3, 2020

The Trump administration unveiled new sanctions on Iran on Thursday. US President Donald Trump is continuing to sanction Iranian entities before he has to leave office next month.

The United States designated the Shahid Meisami Group and its director, Mehran Babri, the State Department said in a press release. The company is owned by the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which was similarly sanctioned in 2014 under the administration of former President Barack Obama. The company has been involved in “the testing and production of chemical agents for use as so-called incapacitation agents,” the State Department said.

Shahid Meisami Group and Babri were sanctioned under Executive Order 13382, which deals with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The order freezes any US assets of designated entities and prohibits US entities from doing business with them.

The Trump administration has continued its yearslong continuation of placing sanctions on Iran through Trump’s final weeks in office. On Nov. 10, the Department of the Treasury announced sanctions on companies allegedly involved in procuring goods for an Iranian military company.

The status of US sanctions on Iran could change dramatically after President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. Biden worked on the Iran nuclear deal when serving as vice president under Obama, and has repeatedly said he wants to return the United States to the agreement. The deal removed sanctions on Iran in exchange for compliance on its nuclear program. Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions. Biden is therefore likely to remove some of the Trump-era sanctions on Iran.

In a Dec. 1 interview, Biden reiterated his intent to reenter the accord. Speaking to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Biden also noted that ““in consultation with our allies and partners, we’re going to engage in negotiations and follow-on agreements to tighten and lengthen Iran’s nuclear constraints, as well as address the missile program.”

Iran is open to the United States returning to the agreement and seeks relief from the harsh sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday that the United States must return to the deal without preconditions.

A return to the deal is not guaranteed, however. Biden, while on the campaign trail, endorsed conditionally reentering based on Iranian compliance. The Iranian parliament also voted this week for legislation that would increase Iran’s enrichment above the levels agreed upon in the deal. This vote came after last week’s killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected the legislation, saying it would harm Iran’s diplomatic efforts, but Iran’s Guardian Council approved it. If Republicans retain control of the US Senate following January’s runoff elections in Georgia, the GOP could also block some of the incoming Biden administration’s proposed Iran policies.

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