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US Treasury sanctions Iranian petrochemical firms shipping products to Asia

Among those targeted are Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Co., which has exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products to countries throughout Asia, including China

A supertanker hosting an Iranian flag is seen on the water in the British territory of Gibraltar, August 18, 2019. (AP Photo/ Marcos Moreno)
A supertanker hosting an Iranian flag is seen on the water in the British territory of Gibraltar, August 18, 2019. (AP Photo/ Marcos Moreno)

WASHINGTON — The US Treasury Department said Wednesday that it has sanctioned a group of front companies and individuals tied to the sale and shipment of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products to East Asia.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed the sanctions on several companies, including Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Co., which has exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products to countries throughout Asia, including China.

Sanctions were also imposed on China-based broker Jeff Gao and Indian national Mohammad Shaheed Ruknooddin Bhore for allegedly managing business for Triliance.

All of the targets’ property and interests in the United States will be frozen, and US-based people and companies are blocked from conducting business dealings with them.

The administration used an August 2018 executive order signed by then-US president Donald Trump as its authority to impose the sanctions.

The order addresses “threats posed by Iran, including Iran’s proliferation and development of missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities, its network, and campaign of regional aggression,” and other issues.

The Shahid Rajaee port facility in the Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas. (Iran Ports and Maritime Organization)

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that while the US “is committed to achieving an agreement with Iran that seeks a mutual return” to the Iran nuclear deal, “we will continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals.”

Iran is nursing a battered economy, with its currency hitting its lowest value ever, after the US in May 2018 withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has been working to renew the agreement, which placed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which Iran insists it has never received.

In June, Iran said it is ready for new indirect talks to overcome the last hurdles to revive its tattered 2015 nuclear deal amid a growing crisis over the country’s atomic program.

The Treasury also designated United Arab Emirates-based Iranian nationals Morteza Rajabieslami and Mahdieh Sanchuli for sanctions.

Also on Wednesday, the US State Department imposed penalties on five entities and 15 people located in Iran, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates.

“Absent a change in course from Iran, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to target exports of petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemical products from Iran,” a State Department statement read.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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