17:16 GMT19 October 2020
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    Washington previously increased sanctions due to the downing of one of its drones over the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian air defences after the UAV reportedly violated Iran's border. The US then slapped sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and those closest to him in order to cut their access to "key financial resources and support".

    US President Donald Trump announced on his Twitter that the sanctions against Iran would soon be strengthened, accusing the country of violating the nuclear deal’s provisions long before it announced a gradual backtracking on its commitments under the international accord.

    While Trump stated that the Iran nuclear deal is set to expire in "a short number of years", it is in fact supposed to remain in place until 2030, unless the signatories withdraw from it earlier.

    The threat of a new package of economic measures comes in the wake of Tehran's announcements that the country has exceeded the limits on the volume of low-enriched uranium and on the enrichment grade that were previously set by the nuclear deal. Iran announced the step on the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from the deal, a move by Washington that led to the imposition of major sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

    Tehran accused the remaining signatories, especially the European nations, of inability to protect the country from the American economic sanctions and stated that it would be gradually reducing its commitments until the issue is resolved. This week, the EU launched the INSTEX mechanism, which is designed to allow European firms to deal with Iran without fear of a US response, but Tehran stated this is not sufficient to save the nuclear deal.

    Heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran
    © AP Photo / Hamid Foroutan
    Heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran

    The latest batch of US sanctions hit Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, those closest to him, and several military commanders on 24 June in what was initially announced as a response to the downing of an American drone over the Strait of Hormuz. The sanctions came after Washington abandoned the idea of a retaliatory strike, but Trump insists that they would have been imposed in any case.

    The US president has repeatedly called on Tehran to engage in negotiations with Washington, saying that sanctions can be lifted as easily as they were imposed. However, Iran has rejected Trump's offers, noting that it will not negotiate while under pressure, but would be ready to talk once the US starts respecting its international commitments, specifically under the nuclear deal.


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