WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it had imposed sanctions on the Iranian construction sector and trade in four materials used in its military or nuclear programs, even as it waived sanctions to let foreign firms continue non-proliferation work in Iran.
The decisions announced by the U.S. State Department reflect an effort to increase economic pressure on Iran by putting wider swathes of its economy under sanctions, while also leaving a door open to diplomacy by allowing work to proceed at Iranian nuclear facilities that make it harder for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had determined Iran’s construction sector was controlled directly or indirectly by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the United States has branded a foreign terrorist organization.
In a second determination, he identified four “strategic materials” as being used in connection with nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs, making trade in them subject to sanctions.
“With these determinations, the United States will have additional authorities to prevent Iran from acquiring strategic materials for the IRGC, its construction sector, and its proliferation programs,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
A separate fact sheet released by the agency identified the four materials as: stainless steel 304L tubes; MN40 manganese brazing foil; MN70 manganese brazing foil; and stainless steel CrNi60WTi ESR + VAR (chromium, nickel, 60 percent tungsten, titanium, electro-slag remelting, vacuum arc remelting).
Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Rosalba O'Brien