US lifts sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses
An unnamed official said that the decision by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was not tied to the ongoing efforts to restart the Iran nuclear deal, but were a recognition of "a verified change in behaviour or status".
"Today, OFAC and the Department of State are also lifting sanctions on three former Government of Iran officials, and two companies formerly involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products," a statement from the US Treasury said.
According to the statement, the lifting of sanctions seeks to “demonstrate the US government's commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of (such) a change."
Sanctions were lifted from the three individuals because it had been established “that they are no longer in their positions within entities affiliated with the Government of Iran,” according to a spokesperson from the Treasury.
The statement from the Treasury did not name the individuals and companies who had sanctions lifted, but OFAC’s website did name those affected.
Sanctions were lifted from: Ahmad Ghalebani, a managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company; Farzad Bazargan, a managing director of Hong Kong Intertrade Company, and Mohammad Moinie, a commercial director of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl.
Additionally, Sea Charming Shipping Company Limited and Aoxing Ship Management Shanghai Limited, both had some sanctions lifted.
The US and Iran are continuing with indirect talks in Vienna, aimed at restarting the Iran nuclear deal, which the US unilaterally withdrew from in 2018.
A sixth round of talks are scheduled to begin this weekend.
The resumption of the Iran nuclear deal has been a key foreign policy objective of President Joe Biden, who wants to see a reduction in Iranian nuclear activity, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Speaking to reporters about the progress of the talks, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: "We've made progress, but, and you've heard this before; challenges do remain, and big issues do continue to divide the sides."