Iran Current Affairs

US imposes new sanctions against Iran over ballistic missile program

The United States has imposed new economic sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme and for contributing to regional tensions.

Under the new sanctions, the US Department of Treasury targeted 16 entities and individuals from Iran citing them as illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity. Those sanctioned mainly targets Iran for developing drones and military equipment, producing and maintaining boats, and procuring electronic components.

The sanctions were imposed day after US certified that Iran is complying with the 2015 Nuclear Deal and it will continue to receive nuclear-related sanctions relief. This was the second time, Trump administration certified Iran’s compliance to 2015 Nuclear Deal. 

About 2015 Nuclear Deal

The 2015 Nuclear Deal was a preliminary framework agreement signed between Iran and P5+1 countries (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China- plus Germany) and the European Union in July 2015. The deal is also called as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) or Vienna agreement.

The deal aims to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Under it, Iran has agreed to give up its most advanced centrifuges and use only its oldest models. But it still allows Iran to continue enrichment in lower quantities for civilian purposes such as power plants.

As part of the deal Iran has agreed to reduce its stockpile of uranium by 98%. Under this deal, Iran could keep 300 kg enriched uranium for the next 15 years and it will get rid of extra uranium by shipping it to Russia. The deal also sets up a comprehensive inspections regime that gives inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) extraordinary and robust access to Iranian nuclear facilities.

Under this deal, global economic sanctions imposed over Iran nuclear programme will be removed. However sanctions related to other aspects of Iran’s behaviour, such as ballistic-missile programme, human-rights issues, support of terrorism and its will not be affected.

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Russia, Turkey and Iran Sign Deal on Safe Zones in Syria

Russia and Iran which are allies of the Syrian regime as well as the rebel supporter Turkey signed a Russia-backed plan for creating safe zones in Syria. The pact which was signed in the Kazakh capital Astana was meant to halt fighting in the war-torn Syria. However, the Syrian government and rebel delegations were not signatories to the agreement. Russia-backed plan to create safe zones in Syria is targeted at further pacification and cessation of hostilities and a halt in fighting in the zones.

Salient Highlights

As per the plan, the zones were set to remain in place for six months. The time period could eventually be extended. The zones would cover the whole of Idlib province, portions of the Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Homs provinces, parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces, as well as the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

As per the memorandum, there will be a halt in the usage of all categories of arms among belligerents, including aerial weapons.

The major objective of the memorandum is to halt the violence and facilitate conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees as well as to provide rapid and uninterrupted delivery of relief supplies and medical aid.

However, the ways to monitor and police the safe zones are not clearly spelt out. Russia has stated that ways to monitor the zones would be an issue for separate talks.

Background

Russia-backed plan has to be viewed at the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s call for the establishment of safe zones in Syria.

The Syrian conflict is six years old. It has been estimated that more than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

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