US and UK hit Iranian deputy commander and Houthi member with sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and U.K. sanctioned a deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a Houthi militant member, Tuesday. The U.S. additionally sanctioned firms registered in Hong Kong and the Marshall Islands, along with two ships, including one that transported $100 million in Iranian commodities to China.

Iranian official Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh, and Houthi group member Ibrahim al-Nashiri were hit with the U.S. and U.K. sanctions Tuesday.

Hong Kong-registered Kohana Co. Ltd. and Marshall Islands-registered Iridescent Co. Ltd. — which own the Panama-flagged Kohana — were also designated for U.S. sanctions. The U.S. says the Kohana has shipped over $100 million in Iranian commodities to businesses in China on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Defense.

Additionally, the U.S. and U.K. sanctioned Hong Kong-based Cap Tees Shipping Co. Ltd., which owns the Artura, accused of transporting Iranian commodities for the network of previously sanctioned Houthi and Iranian financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal. Treasury says the Artura obfuscated its identity by using the name of a different vessel, Sanan II, to complete some of its shipments.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matt Miller said the U.S. and its allies “remain committed to countering terrorist financing and will continue to use all available means to disrupt Houthi attacks on international shipping in the region.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said, “The attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis are unacceptable, illegal and a threat to innocent lives and freedom of navigation.”

“As I have made clear to the Iranian Foreign Minister, the regime bears responsibility for these attacks due to the extensive military support it has provided to the Houthis. All those who seek to undermine regional stability should know that the UK, alongside our allies, will not hesitate to act.”

The sanctions block access to U.S. property and bank accounts and prevent the targeted people and companies from doing business with Americans.

Escalation between the U.S., Iran and Houthi militia have increased after a series of maritime attacks in the Mideast linked to the Israel-Hamas war, as multiple vessels have found themselves in the crosshairs of a single Houthi assault for the first time in the conflict.

The White House last week promised to unveil new sanctions on Iran in retaliation for its arms sales that have bolstered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threatened a “swift” and “severe” response if Tehran moves forward with selling ballistic missiles to Moscow.

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Associated Press reporter Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.