Sudan on Thursday accused the United States of reneging on commitments to remove sanctions, after Washington extended the 15-year-old trade restrictions.
Then-president Bill Clinton imposed the embargo in 1997 over Sudan’s support for international terrorism, efforts to destabilize neighboring governments, and human rights violations.
President Barack Obama approved the sanctions for another year on Thursday, saying the actions of the Sudanese government “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
This year’s sanctions renewal came one week after Sudan accused Israel of sending four radar-evading aircraft to strike a military factory, which exploded and burned in the heart of Khartoum at midnight on October 23.
The blast led to speculation that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured there but Sudan's foreign ministry denied Iran had any involvement.
Israel refused all comment on Khartoum’s allegations about the factory blast but officials in the Jewish state have long accused Khartoum of serving as a base of support for militants from the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
Sudan’s foreign ministry called the US sanctions “basically political”, with the aim of hindering the country’s development. It said the embargo benefits armed rebel groups while violating international law.
“Many times the American administration agreed that Sudan is meeting its commitments but they are always retreating from their promises to remove the sanctions,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The Sudanese government repeats its strong rejection of the sanctions renewal and strongly condemns the behavior of the American administration.”
From 1991 to 1996 Sudan hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS last year.
The US State Department continues to list Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism but, in a July report, said Khartoum was “a cooperative counter-terrorism partner” last year.
Except for Hamas, the government “does not openly support the presence of terrorist elements within its borders,” the report said.
It added that Sudan maintains a relationship with Iran, another terrorism sponsor.
The sanctions limit access to external financing for Sudan’s indebted economy, which lost the bulk of its export revenue when South Sudan separated in July last year with most of the country’s oil production.