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U.S. again renews sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear work

U.S. again renews sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear work
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inspects nuclear technology at a facility in Tehran, Iran, on April 9, 2019. File Photo by Iranian Presidency Office/EPA-EFE

March 31 (UPI) -- The Trump administration has renewed a group of sanctions waivers to allow U.S. and foreign companies to do business with Iran's nuclear program for another 60 days.

The waivers were renewed on Monday, the State Department said.

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The State Department has previously renewed the waivers, saying they are needed to keep watch on Iran's nuclear progress. The Treasury Department had also favored keeping the waivers in place.

The administration extended the waivers in January and Tehran said companies have worked with them at the Arak heavy-water research reactor, the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Tehran Research Reactor and other facilities.

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is for civilian power rather than military use. The Trump administration started ramping up new sanctions against Iran after dropping out of the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement in 2018.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif complained that U.S. sanctions are crippling efforts to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, and called for their lifting. Iran has been one of the hardest-hit countries, with about 40,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,600 deaths.

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"As President Trump said earlier this year, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon," State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Monday. "We will continue to use the full range of our diplomatic and economic tools to constrain Iran's destabilizing proliferation activities. We will continue to closely monitor all developments in Iran's nuclear program and can adjust these restrictions at any time."

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