Selin ATAY-TDO-The United States on Thursday extended its sanctions on Iran by taking aim at its construction sector, which Washington linked to the country's Revolutionary Guards.

The sanctions, it said, would also target "four strategic materials as being used in connection with Iran's nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed the sanctions after the construction sector was identified as "being controlled directly or indirectly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

The latest sanctions "will help preserve oversight of Iran's civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran's ability to shorten its 'breakout time' to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes," Morgan Ortagus - a spokes person for the US State Department - stated.

Iranian tensions with the United States have escalated sharply since US President Donald Trump last year withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions. Tehran has hit back by suspending its compliance with parts of the nuclear deal until sanctions relief is restored.

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