The US has renewed sanctions waivers on Iran, allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prevailed in an internal debate on the issue against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who opposed extending the waivers, according to the media on Monday.

Mnuchin believed that eliminating the waivers amid the coronavirus pandemic might draw criticism against the US.

Iran is among the countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the US has shown little willingness to ease its notorious “maximum pressure” against Tehran

In January, US government announced that it imposed sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and it’s head while renewing waivers allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear sites.

On December 12, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, including an airline and the country’s shipping industry.

While announcing the sanctions Steve Mnuchin said that Iran “uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen”.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Education on Monday reported a total of 41,495 coronavirus cases and 2,757 deaths.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling sanctions.