US piles more sanctions on Iran

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Thursday hit Iran with more sanctions designed to hinder the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Treasury Department announced new financial sanctions against 11 companies affiliated with the Iranian defense ministry, Revolutionary Guard Corps and national shipping line as well as a university, all for actions they took to support the programs. Several of the firms are already subject to U.S. and European sanctions.

Treasury also slapped penalties on four men, including an Austrian national and three Iranians, for similar activity.

"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," said David Cohen, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence. "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."

The sanctions freeze any assets that the firms and individuals may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The affected firms include the Electronic Components Industries Co. and Information Systems Iran, subsidiaries of a company run by Iran's defense ministry that make high tech communications equipment and computers; the Advanced Information and Communication Technology Center; Digital Media Lab; Value-Added Services Laboratory; Ministry of Defense Logistics Export; International General Resourcing FZE, which is based in the United Arab Emirates; Malek Ashtar University, which trains military technicians; and Good Luck Shipping, an Emirates-based affiliate of Iran's previously sanctioned national shipping line, IRISIL.

The other two companies are Pentane Chemistry Industries; which manufactures components for Iran's nuclear facilities and the Center for Innovation and Technology Cooperation, which aides in technology transfer from scientists to the Iranian military.

The four individuals are Iranian software engineer Hamid Reza Rabiee; Austrian Daniel Frosch, the owner of International General Resourcing FZE; Ali Fadavi, the naval commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hossein Tanideh, a former vice president of Pentane Chemistry Industries.

In addition, Treasury identified several front companies operating on behalf of the Iranian government and the sanctioned entities, including energy firms based in Hong Kong, Switzerland and Malaysia. The identifications mean they will now be subject to existing sanctions covering their parent or sister organizations.

Those firms include Petro Suisse Intertrade Company SA; Hong Kong Intertrade Company; Noor Energy (Malaysia) Ltd.; and Petro Energy Intertrade Company. All are said to be alleged fronts for Iran's national oil company, which wanted to use them to evade existing sanctions. They also include the National Iranian Tanker Company.

The identifications "highlight Iran's attempts to evade sanctions through the use of front companies, as well as its attempts to conceal its tanker fleet by repainting, reflagging, or disabling GPS devices," Treasury said in a statement.

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