Abdollah Afshar prepares electoral posters of President Hassan Rouhani for the May 19 presidential election campaign in a printing house in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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The Trump administration took a key step Wednesday toward preserving the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran, coupling the move with fresh ballistic missile sanctions to show it isn't going light on the Islamic republic.Under the 2015 nuclear agreement, the U.S. lifted those sanctions.The dual moves -- ensuring old sanctions on Iran don't return while imposing new ones -- appeared aimed at undercutting the impression that Trump's stance on Iran has softened. Since taking office, Trump's administration has sanctioned hundreds in Iran and in Syria -- an Iranian ally -- as part of a campaign to increase pressure on Iran even as it reviews the nuclear deal.In a similar move last month, Trump's administration certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal -- a requirement for Iran to keep receiving the economic benefits of the deal.Trump also announced late Wednesday that the U.S. didn't intend to limit Iran's ability to sell oil. The U.S. also punished another Iranian official it said has been involved in Iran's ballistic missile program, as well as Matin Sanat Nik Andishan, a company based in Iran that the U.S. said helped obtain materials for the ballistic missile program.
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