The US government announced that it has imposed sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and its head, while renewing waivers allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear sites. On Thursday, the Treasury Department said that it has designated the AEOI and its chief Ali Akbar Salehi, reports Xinhua news agency. The AEOI has "played a big role in Iran breaching its key nuclear commitments", Brian Hook, US special representative for Iran, told the media at the State Department following the Treasury's announcement.
As a result of the designation, all property and interests in property of the designated individual and entity are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them.
Hook also revealed that Washington will extend its waiver for another 60 days allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear sites, which will make it more difficult for Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon.
The continuation of non-proliferation projects, which include the Bushehr nuclear power plant, could "constrain Iran's nuclear activities", he added.
The AEOI was designated by the US in November 2018, when the Trump administration reimposed the second batch of sanctions that had been suspended following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Thursday's designation added the AEOI under the Treasury's sanctions lists for Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations and Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations.
Since its unilateral exit from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Washington has been mounting pressure on Tehran through a series of sanctions.
Iran has maintained a tough stance and scaled back its nuclear commitments in response.
The strained US-Iran tensions have escalated sharply since Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 3.
In response to the US move, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi dismissed the US sanctions as a "desperate" attempt.
"Sanctions on Salehi is a political game, it is a desperate attempt by America, and it is worthless," Kamalvandi told local media.
"Iran's nuclear programs will continue with full force. After leaving the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal), the US is not in a position to talk about Iran's nuclear obligations," he added.