US President Bill Clinton has issued a 12-month extension of economic sanctions against Iran, already in place for more than 20 years, until relations between the two countries are normalized. The president informed the US Congress of the decision in a letter released Thursday by the White House.
"I am continuing the national emergency with respect with Iran for one year," Clinton said in the letter. Iran swiftly condemned the measure as "unacceptable". The sanctions were imposed in 1979 after the US embassy was seized and its employees taken hostage in Tehran. Since then, the measures have been renewed each year.
Last March, the United States slightly eased its sanctions, trying to encourage a restart of dialogue with the Islamic Republic after moderates won general elections, by lifting bans on Iranian caviar, carpets and pistachios.
"We condemn this unacceptable decision which is in violation of international and trade relations," Iranian state television quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi as saying. He added that Iran had no worries because of its internal resources, but the sanctions hurt US firms anxious to do business with Tehran. — (AFP, Washington)
© Agence France Presse 2000