US sanctions Iran officials, Chinese network over missile program

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The Iranian defence officials were Morteza Farasatpour and Rahim Ahmadi.

The timing is meant to show a hard stance on Iran - even as the administration continues to comply with the Iran nuclear deal. Some foreign investors, such as French oil major Total, have previously said they were waiting to see whether the waiver extensions would be granted before making decisions on multi-billion-dollar investments in Iran.

Donald Trump had previously stated his doubts about the Iran nuclear deal.

During his tour of the Middle East, Trump will visit Saudi Arabia and Israel, two countries who are also very concerned about Iranian expansionism and terrorism.

Some experts and congressional staffers dismissed the latest sanctions as largely cosmetic measures that would not have any concrete impact on the country's economy.

In a statement, Stuart Jones, an acting assistant secretary at State, said the administration would continue to waive sanctions as required under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "Yet, the administration continues to stand in the way of what is legitimate trade with Iran, which the agreement obligates the United States not to do", said Trita Parsi, President of the organization.

The Trump administration signed a waiver today that suspends sanctions against Iran.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal characterized the planned trip as part of an ongoing effort to encourage traditional USA allies to develop a multilateral plan for fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant while also pushing back against Iran, which has a hand in a number of regional conflicts and terrorist activities.

Referring to Iran as "the number one terrorist state", the US president said the Middle Eastern country supplies money and weapons to terrorist groups. Under the nuclear deal, Washington can continue sanctioning Iran for other, non-nuclear actions, although Tehran has threatened to pull out of the deal if the United States and other countries do so.

"I will continue to monitor this situation closely", Trump added.

Unnamed officials earlier told Reuters earlier that Washington had already noted Iranian officials that the waivers would remain in place.

Iranians are set to vote Friday in the country's presidential election.

At the same time, the Trump administration imposed new penalties on Iranian and Chinese entities for supporting Iran's ballistic missile program. The sanctions also target a series of Chinese companies associated with Ruan Runling, a Chinese citizen. The U.S. says the program is a breach of worldwide law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future.

Donald Trump's White House has renewed sanctions relief for Iran, despite the United States president's past criticism.