The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday it is sanctioning a number of companies and individuals tied to weapons proliferation in Iran or circumvention of existing sanctions on the Iranian regime.
"Iran today is under intense, multilateral sanctions pressure, and we will continue to ratchet up the pressure so long as Iran refuses to address the international community's well-founded concerns about its nuclear program," Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a press release.
He added, "Today's actions are our next step on that path, taking direct aim at disrupting Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as its deceptive efforts to use front companies to sell and move its oil."
Today's new sanctions came in two parts: 1) placing sanctions on 15 entities or individuals involved in supporting Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and 2) publicly sanctioning over 25 companies and individuals as Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) who have repeatedly acted to circumvent current sanctions on the Iranian regime.
Both sets of sanctions block all U.S. persons and companies from engaging in any transactions with the designated entities and individuals.
Most of the entities designated under the first set of sanctions (E.O. 13382) are tied to Iran's Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and its subsidiary Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO).
Under executive order 13382, which is "aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters and isolating them financially," Treasury can prohibit all transactions between the designees and any U.S. person and freeze any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction, according to the State Department.
Electronic Components Industries Co. (ECI) and Information Systems Iran (ISIRAN), one of the largest and most experienced information technology companies in Iran, and Daniel Frosch, an Austrian exporter currently living in Dubai, were both designated under E.O. 13382. Frosch had previously been under investigation by Austria for exporting components that could be used in nuclear weapons to Iran.
The second set of sanctions, pursuant under E.O. 13599 or the SDN List, targets "individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific," according to Treasury.
Petro Suisse Intertrade Company SA (Switzerland), Hong Kong Intertrade Company, Noor Energy Ltd, (Malaysia) and Petro Energy Intertrade Company (Dubai) were all added to the SDN List today "because they are owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Iran," Treasury said.
Twenty Iranian financial institutions were also designated as SDN as well as 58 National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessels, the NITC itself and 27 of its affiliated entities.
Pundits have argued over the efficiency of the U.S. government's two-track approach to Iran - on the one hand, pressuring the regime with sanctions and on the other, urging them to discuss their nuclear program during meetings with the international community.
However, recent leaks from Iran showing state-owned news agencies being discouraged from reporting the effects of sanctions could show the steps are having an impact.
"Our country is not in a position to allow the media to publish news or analysis which is not compatible with the regime's and national interests," Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance chief Mohammad Hosseini recently told local media site dolat.ir in uncharacteristically candid terms.
He added, "The situation regarding sanctions and other pressures, especially in economy ... requires more cooperation by the media so the country is not hurt."
The next round of working-level meetings between Iran and the P5+1, the international group charged with discussing the Iranian nuclear program, will take place in Istanbul on July 24th.
by RTT Staff Writer
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