MILITARY

Iran: Changes to US visa waiver program contradict Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers

Changes to a U.S. visa waiver program that impose travel restrictions on those who visit Iran contradict the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Sunday.

The U.S. in recent days tightened security requirements of its visa waiver program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. without visas. Now, people from those countries who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan in the past five years must obtain visas to enter the U.S.

The new rule was signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday as part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill.

Under the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the world powers including the U.S. are committed to refrain from any policy intended to adversely affect normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.

"The law Obama signed contradicts JCPOA," state TV quoted Araghchi as saying. "Definitely, this law adversely affects economic, cultural, scientific and tourism relations."

Araghchi said Iran will go to the commission overseeing the implementation of the deal if the law is implemented.

In a letter to his Iranian counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reassured Iran that the law "will not in any way prevent us from meeting our JCPOA commitments."

Kerry noted in the letter to Mohammad Javad Zarif that there are "a number of potential tools available," including multiple entry ten-year business visas and programs for expediting business visas.

On Sunday, a group of 102 Iranian lawmakers condemned the new legislation and called on President Hassan Rouhani to take retaliatory measures against the U.S. However, they did not say what specific steps Iran can take. Iran's 290-seat parliament is controlled by conservatives.

Under the nuclear agreement reached in July with the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Iran will curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.