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The US today announced fresh sanctions against Iran, targeting 18 individuals or entities for supporting the country's ballistic missile programme or radical groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East.

According to a statement by the US Treasury Department, 16 Iranian entities and individuals, including ones engaged in activities in support of Iran's military or the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were designated for "engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity", Xinhua news agency reported.

The president's team also reportedly emphasized the need to coordinate any US action across the range of actors involved in the Iran deal, which is also signed by the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and Germany.

"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] states the anticipation of JCPOA participants that 'full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and worldwide peace and security, '" spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"Iran should immediately release all of these US citizens on humanitarian grounds", the State Department said.

Officials also said the U.S. would speed up Tehran with new sanctions that paralyze the development of ballistic missiles and other activities.

The State Department is required to update Congress every 90 days on Iran's adherence to the deal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that he hopes Yemen's war will not spark direct confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and that they can work together to end the conflict in the country and Syria.

Meanwhile, the quarterly report on the implementation of the agreement, which states that Iran is in compliance with the deal, was sent to the U.S. Congress.

The agreement allows Iran to conduct only low-level uranium enrichment and requires that all spent fuel from its nuclear reactors must be sent overseas for reprocessing. Officials pointed to other, non-nuclear threats, including complicity in the atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria, freedom of navigation waterways in the Middle East, cyberattacks against the United States and other countries, and the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals, including USA citizens.

The move came the day after the administration certified to Congress that Iran is technically complying with the nuclear deal and can continue enjoying nuclear sanctions relief, hours after an Iranian general threatened attacks on United States bases in the Middle East in response to sanctions.

It's a problematic position, but mostly boils down to the Trump Administration being keen to have some excuse to "rip up" the nuclear deal as they'd long threatened to do, and being incredibly annoyed at the fact that they don't have a pretext to do so.

Three senior administration officials briefed reporters on the certification on conditions of anonymity imposed by the White House.

"Well, we've taken a route that has been prescribed within the nuclear deal..."

He said he was willing to discuss Wang's case "on humanitarian grounds" but stressed that Iran's courts were independent of the government. But many congressional Republicans and the Israeli government have opposed the deal, saying it won't stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb or curb its destabilizing activities in the region.


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