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US sanctions Iran networks

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Not seeking heightened tensions, Zarif tells Japan

WASHINGTON, Aug 28, (RTRS): The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two networks it says evaded sanctions to benefit Iran’s government and military organizations, the Treasury Department said. One of the networks used a Hong Kong-based front company to evade US and international sanctions and target US technology and components for people tied to Iran’s government and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

The other network obtained Nuclear Suppliers Group-controlled aluminum alloy products for companies owned or controlled by Iran’s defense ministry, the department said.

The US Treasury Department also slapped sanctions on individuals connected to the two networks. The sanctions are part of a US campaign to increase economic pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. Washington ditched a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and five other countries and has ratcheted up sanctions on the country, including penalties on Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

On Monday, Trump said at a news conference that he would be open to meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, but Rouhani reiterated he would only be open to talks if Washington first dropped sanctions against Tehran. Iran is not seeking to increase tension but every country should be able to enjoy its rights under international law, Zarif said on Wednesday. Zarif made the comment in Yokohama, near Tokyo, at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“As our president has said, we are not at all seeking heightened tensions,” Zarif said, speaking through a translator. “We believe every country should be able to enjoy its rights under international law.” Trump said on Monday he would meet Iran’s president under the right circumstances to end the confrontation over the nuclear deal, and that talks were underway to see how countries could open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat.

But Trump ruled out lifting economic sanctions to compensate for losses suffered by Iran. On Tuesday, Rouhani said Iran would not talk to the United States until all sanctions were lifted. Japan, Washington’s closest Asian ally, has historically had friendly ties with Iran. Abe visited Tehran in June to try to ease tensions.

Rouhani called on Iranians on Wednesday to unite to overcome an “economic war” waged by the United States, while his government said it would use diplomacy to try to solve the standoff even though it distrusted President Donald Trump. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have heightened since Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions on Iran. “We need to unite to fight against and to win this economic war that America has launched against Iran,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Iran’s government Spokesman Ali Rabie said on Wednesday: “Taking into account Donald Trump’s personal traits, we don’t trust him; however, Iran has never abandoned diplomacy but we are determined to pursue it as an equal (of the United States),” state TV reported. Iran describes the US sanctions as “economic warfare” and Rouhani said on Tuesday there would be no talks with the United States until all sanctions imposed on Tehran were lifted.

Iran would need three days to lift its oil production back to the level it was at before US sanctions were imposed, the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying on Tuesday. “Three days are needed to return production to the levels before the reduction,” Zanganeh said, according to the report.

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