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U.S. Imposes New Ballistic Sanctions On Iran, Day After Many Penalties Lifted

A day after many sanctions on Iran were lifted under the international nuclear pact, the U.S. Treasury department has imposed new sanctions — over Iran's ballistic, not nuclear, weapons.

The sanctions target 11 companies and individuals who have been involved in procuring goods for Iran's weapons program, the Treasury Department says.

"This action is consistent with the U.S. government's commitment to continue targeting those who assist in Iran's efforts to procure items for its ballistic missile program," the department said in a statement.

The announcement of new sanctions comes a day after the U.S. and Iran conducted a carefully negotiated prisoner exchange. The released Americans who wished to leave Iran have now departed the country, according to a senior administration official.

It also comes one day after "Implementation Day," when the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog verified that Iran has worked to shrink its nuclear program and opened it up for inspection. That meant that, under the terms of the international nuclear pact, many sanctions against Iran were lifted.

Not all sanctions were ended. As the White House noted in its summary of the nuclear deal, "U.S. statutory sanctions focused on Iran's support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and missile activities will remain in effect and continue to be enforced."

The new sanctions by the Treasury department target those missile activities. They were prompted by Iran's recent ballistic missile tests, President Obama said Sunday.

Iran and the U.S. disagree over whether such penalties violate the nuclear accord, as the Wall Street Journal wrote last week, when it reported the U.S. was planning such sanctions:

"Iranian officials have warned the White House in recent months that any such financial penalties would be viewed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a violation of the nuclear accord.

Senior U.S. officials have said the Treasury retained a right under the agreement to blacklist Iranian entities allegedly involved in missile development, as well as those that support international terrorism and human-rights abuses. Officials view those activities as separate from the nuclear deal."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.

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