ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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US blacklists Iranian, Chinese companies said to be fronts for IRGC arms purchases

Treasury’s decision also targets Revolutionary Guard officials as Biden administration looks to pressure Tehran over proxies’ aggression after drone strike kills 3 US soldiers

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard launch underground ballistic missiles during a military exercise, July 29, 2020. (IRGC via AP)
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard launch underground ballistic missiles during a military exercise, July 29, 2020. (IRGC via AP)

WASHINGTON – The United States on Friday imposed sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile and drone procurement programs as well as officials it said were involved in hacking US infrastructure, as Washington looks to increase pressure on Tehran.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement it had imposed sanctions on four Iran- and Hong Kong-based companies involved in providing materials and technology to Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs, as well as a Hong Kong-based firm for selling Iranian commodities to Chinese entities.

The Treasury also said it placed sanctions on six officials of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Cyber Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC) for malicious cyber activities against critical infrastructure in the United States and elsewhere.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s embassy to the United States criticized the sanctions as “unlawful unilateral” steps.

The sanctions, announced in separate statements, represent Washington’s latest efforts to punish Tehran, whose proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Gaza Strip have attacked US and Israeli targets.

The US Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on four Iran- and Hong Kong-based entities for operating as covert procurement entities for Iran’s Pishtazan Kavosh Gostar Boshra (PKGB) and its managing director Hamed Dehghan, who it said support Iranian military organizations, including the IRGC.

Illustrative: This photo taken on September 22, 2018, shows members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) marching during the annual military parade that marks the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran. (Stringer/AFP)

The Treasury named the three Hong Kong firms it accused of being part of the procurement network for Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs as FY International Trading Co., Limited, Duling Technology HK Limited and Advantage Trading Co., Limited.

Hong Kong-based China Oil and Petroleum Company Limited was also hit with sanctions on Friday, with the Treasury accusing it of being a front company for the IRGC’s Quds Force.

The Treasury said it has arranged contracts and sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian commodities and was involved in trade with China-based entities to benefit the Quds Force.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, criticized the sanctions.

“These are typical acts of putting unlawful unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, severely undercutting Chinese interests,” Liu said. “China is deeply concerned and firmly against… such moves.”

Narin Sepehr Mobin Istatis, an Iran-based subsidiary of PKGB, was also among those sanctioned in Friday’s action, which freezes any US assets belonging to those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.

In a separate statement, the Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on six IRGC-CEC officials: Hamid Reza Lashgarian, Mahdi Lashgarian, Hamid Homayunfal, Milad Mansuri, Mohammad Bagher Shirinkar and Reza Mohammad Amin Saberian.

The sanctions came as the United States blamed Iran-backed militia for an attack on a US base in Jordan that killed three American soldiers and wounded more than 40, In response, the Biden administration on Friday carried out a wave of retaliatory strikes on some 85 sites in Iraq and Syria linked to the IRGC.

A satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows a military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. The damage caused by the drone strike can be seen in the center-left of the photo. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The attack in Jordan was the first to kill US troops in the Middle East amid rising violence in the region since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza to murder nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take 253 hostages while committing numerous atrocities and weaponizing sexual violence on a mass scale.

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