The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on companies it accused of involvement in Iran's petrochemical and petroleum trade, including some based in China and India, pressuring Tehran as it seeks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Washington designated two China-based companies, Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co Ltd and WS Shipping Co Ltd, as part of attempts to thwart sanctions evasion on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.
Blinken accused Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co Ltd of operating a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian petroleum and WS Shipping Co Ltd of being a ship manager for a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products.
Reuters could not immediately reach the two companies for comment.
The U.S. Treasury Department also slapped sanctions on a network of companies involved in what it said was the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petrochemical and petroleum products to South and East Asia.
The action targeted Iranian brokers and front companies in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and India, the Treasury said in a separate statement.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Washington has increasingly targeted Chinese companies over the export of Iran's petrochemicals as the prospects of reviving the nuclear pact have dimmed. Indirect talks on the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have broken down.
"So long as Iran refuses a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the United States will continue to enforce its sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products," the Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.
The 2015 agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms, in return for lifting international sanctions.
But then-U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal in 2018, saying it did not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and regional influence, and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.
Washington warned that it would continue to accelerate enforcement of sanctions on Iran's petroleum and petrochemical sales so long as Tehran continues to accelerate its nuclear program.
"These enforcement actions will continue on a regular basis, with an aim to severely restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports," Blinken said.
Anyone involved in such sales and transactions should stop immediately if they wish to avoid being subjected to U.S. sanctions, he said.
© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.