Iran: New US sanctions violate spirit of Geneva deal

Expert-level talks over Iran deal hit snag in Vienna after new measures; Russia echoes Iranian criticism.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
ANKARA - Iran said on Friday that a new US measure targeting companies and individuals for supporting its nuclear program violated the spirit of a nuclear deal reached with major powers in Geneva last month.
The United States on Thursday black-listed additional companies and people under sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining the capability to make nuclear weapons, US officials said. Iran says its program is purely peaceful.
"We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals. It is against the spirit of the Geneva deal," deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the semi-official Fars news agency on Friday.
Araghchi, who is also a member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team, was referring to a November 24 interim agreement with six world powers under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions over the next six months.
Russia on Friday echoed Iran's criticism of the new measures.
"The US administration's decision goes against the spirit of this document," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said of the Nov. 24 interim agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions over the next six months.
"Widening American 'blacklists' could seriously complicate the fulfillment of othe Geneva agreement, which proposes easing the sanctions regime," Zakharova said in a statement.
In Vienna earlier on Friday, the European Union said that Iran and six world powers needed more time to work out complex technical steps to implement last month's deal after four days of expert-level talks.
It was not clear if Araghchi's remarks were related to the need for more time.
Meanwhile, two diplomats said on Friday that Iran's anger over a new US sanctions measure may have been behind its move to interrupt talks with world powers over how to implement last month's breakthrough nuclear agreement.
Several envoys stressed, however, that the inconclusive outcome of the Dec. 9-12 expert-level discussions in Vienna should not be seen as a sign that the political deal hammered out nearly three weeks ago was in serious trouble.
The US Treasury and State Department said the blacklistings showed the Geneva deal "does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran's nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions."
Some US lawmakers want further sanctions on the Islamic state.
President Barack Obama's campaign to hold off on new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program won a key endorsement on Thursday when the chairman of the US Senate Banking Committee rejected tightening measures against Iran now.
Iran has repeatedly said it will not be pressured, warning that new sanctions "could kill the deal".
The new measure, the first such enforcement action since the first step agreement was reached in Geneva, targeted entities that are suspected of involvement in the proliferation of materials for weapons of mass destruction and have tried to evade the current sanctions.
Administration officials said Thursday's targets include companies and individuals engaged in transactions on behalf of other companies that the United States has also previously designated under the sanctions. They include Mid Oil Asia, Singa Tankers, Siqiriya Maritime, Ferland Company Limited and Vitaly Sokolenko.
The US also named five Iranian entities it said are directly engaged in actions contributing to Iran's ability to enrich uranium.
Several other entities related to Iran's ballistic missile program were also targeted.
The powers who negotiated the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - are continuing negotiations with a goal of reaching a comprehensive final deal in six months.