The US has realigned its sanctions against Iran’s officials, adding some to the blacklist but removing others.

Just before this weekend’s sixth round of talks in Vienna over the 2015 nuclear deal, the State and Treasury Departments said they were sanctioning 12 Iranian individuals, entities, and vessels for providing financial support to Houthi insurgents in Yemen’s civil war.

Restrictions were lifted on three former Iranian government officials and two Iranian companies involved in the country’s oil industry.

State Department Ned Price maintained there was “absolutely no connection” between the sanctions and the nuclear talks.

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But Robert Einhorn of the Brookings Institution evaluated, “What they’re saying to Iran is, look, we’re prepared to be reasonable here: When sanctions are no longer warranted, we’re prepared to lift them; but when they are warranted, we’re prepared to impose them.”

The lifted sanctions had been imposed on former Iranian officials and companies described by the State Department as “previously involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products”.

No explanation was given for the removal, except for Price’s statement that it was in response to a “petition for delisting.”

The new sanctions were imposed on a group led by a “Sa’id Ahmad Muhammad al-Jamal” in a “network of front companies and intermediaries” selling oil and other commodities, with proceeds supporting the Houthis.