Those who knowingly transfer 15 materials which the State Department says are used in connection with Iran's nuclear, military or ballistic missile programs, including certain types of aluminum and steel, would be subject to sanctions, he said.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche published on Saturday, said Iran was building up its nuclear weapons' capacity and it was urgent that Tehran and Washington return to a 2015 nuclear agreement.
Not only has the nuclear deal failed to bring Iran economic benefits, said Foad Izadi, a conservative political analyst and University of Tehran lecturer, Iran now has the worst of both worlds: US sanctions, which the deal was meant to lift, as well as reduced nuclear capabilities.
The core of a nuclear weapon could be constructed by using uranium metal.
The landmark 2015 deal between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions has been largely in tatters since US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
"There is definitely a risk that Iran is overplaying its hand", said Eric Brewer, a former counterproliferation official at the U.S. National Security Council now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, repeated that in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that "natural uranium will be used to produce uranium metal in the first stage".
There is no known civilian use for materials produced in such a manner. Iran says all these steps are reversible as soon as other parties meet their obligations under the deal that is lifting the sanctions against the country that had been agreed in the 2015-signed JCPOA.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20, has pledged to return the United States to the deal "if Iran resumes strict compliance" with the agreement that imposed strict curbs on its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi said recently that Israel could attack Iran's nuclear program if the United States rejoins the nuclear deal, an agreement that US President-elect Joe Biden has said he plans to approve.
"Enemies should know that any violation and invasion of Iranian marine borders will be targeted by the cruise missiles from both coast and sea", Admiral Hamzeh Ali Kaviani, spokesman for the exercise, said.
And it took place under surveillance of what appeared to be a USA nuclear submarine dispatched to the region amid heightened tensions.
"Reality check: YOU are destabilising OUR region".
Iran's navy did not identify the submarine but warned the boat to steer clear of the area.