WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama renewed some long-standing U.S. financial sanctions against Iran on Thursday, the White House said.
Obama notified Congress that, as expected, he was extending a set of existing U.S. measures against Tehran for another year, saying "our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal."
Since taking office in January, Obama has sought to reach out diplomatically to Iran, but the West remains locked in a bitter dispute with Tehran over its nuclear program.
The sanctions that Obama renewed on Thursday, which involve certain frozen Iranian assets, stem from a "national emergency" the U.S. government declared in November 1979 near the start of the Iran hostage crisis.
Such sanctions have to be extended annually by the U.S. president to remain in effect.
The timing of Obama's move did not appear intended to send a message to Iran, which faces the threat of a U.S.-led push for further international sanctions unless it complies with demands over its nuclear work.
Iran is under pressure to seal a nuclear fuel deal with Washington and other major world powers to help assuage concerns it is trying to develop an atomic bomb. Tehran insists it wants nuclear technology only for civilian power-generating purposes.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; editing by Mohammad Zargham