01:47 GMT31 May 2020
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    On Wednesday, the United States Senate voted in favor of new sanctions against Russia over its alleged interference in the US presidential election in 2016, an allegation which Moscow flatly denies.

    The new sanctions include additional punitive measures against Russia’s defense, intelligence, mining, shipping and railway industries and restrict dealings with the country's banks and energy companies.

    The same bill, passed by the Senate, also imposed new sanctions against Iran. 

    If passed in the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Trump, the bill would impose new mandatory sanctions against persons and entities involved in Tehran’s ballistic missile program and sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It also mandated that the US President block assets of any person or company involved in the supply or transfer of illegal arms to or from Iran.

    US, Iran, Nuclear Deal

    In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Iranian political commentator and expert on nuclear issues Hassan Beheshtipour shared his thoughts on the consequences of the new sanctions.

    According to him, they contradict the principles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and prove that Washington’s actions are aimed at undermining international cooperation.

    "The final deal on Iran’s nuclear program reads that Iran must fulfill its obligations under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Hence no sanctions and restrictions are presumed. The signatories should advance towards cooperation, but the US Senate wants to undermine those efforts," Beheshtipour said.

    According to the expert, the fact that sanctions against Russia and Iran were combined in one bill proves that the Republicans wanted to kill two birds with one stone.

    "The majority of the Republicans want sanctions against Iran while sanctions against Russia have been promoted by the majority of the Democrats. The Republicans wanted to win support from the Democrats and this is why they included anti-Russian sanctions into the bill on restrictions against Iran," he pointed out.

    Beheshtipour said that if finally approved, the initiative will be a "disgrace for the US" and will have rather negative consequences.

    "This move may lead to the isolation of the US in the international arena. Washington has violated many deals and agreements. But the US cannot simply tear up the nuclear deal because there will be a tough response from Iran," he said.

    Beheshtipour also suggested that close cooperation between Russia and Iran could seriously offset the effect of the planned sanctions.

    No Threat to Russian Assets

    In particular, the bill also tightens restrictions on the extension of credit to Russian entities.

    It reduces the maturity period of new debt issuance to Russia's financial sector from 30 to 14 days and Russia's energy sector from 90 to 30 days. It also sets a 180-day period during which the US Treasury Secretary must submit a report on the possible effect from sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt.

    Financial experts from the Russian investment company Aton, however, said that the extension of sanctions poses no direct threat to Russian assets.

    "Even if the bill is finally approved, there will be no serious threat to Russian assets, apart from the current negative sentiments in the market. The reduction of the maturity period of debt issuance is unlikely to have a negative effect on Russian banks and oil and gas companies," experts told Sputnik.

    As for the extension of sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt, the experts pointed out that the bill describes it as just an option for consideration, and stated that it is unlikely to be implemented in practice.

    White House Wants More Flexibility

    Despite the fact that US President Donald Trump’s administration supports sanctions against Russia, they are concerned that the new bill will tie their hands in rebuilding ties with Moscow, Politico reported, citing a senior administrational official.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a House Foreign Affairs hearing: "I would urge Congress to ensure any legislation allows the President to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions."

    Earlier, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "We would like the flexibility to turn the heat up on Russia," he said. "We have some channels where we're starting to talk, but what I wouldn't want to do is close the channels off."

    Commenting on the new sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said they are counterproductive for the bilateral ties.

    "It will, of course, complicate Russian-US relations. I think that it is harmful," he said.


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