The United States has slapped fresh sanctions on dozens of Iranian firms and individuals having links with the country’s nuclear and missile programme, expanding its list of penalties following the UN Security Council’s fresh resolution.
The list includes two top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard that controls the country’s nuclear programme and a bank that the US alleges is acting as a front for another to evade sanctions.
The decision to slap new sanctions against Iran comes after the UN Security Council resolution last week.
The resolution was drafted and sponsored by the United States and all the other permanent members of the Security Council -- France, Britain, Russia and China -- supported it.
Turkey and Brazil were the only two non-permanent members to have voted against the resolution.
Announcing the sanctions at the White House, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, said the US has designated Iran’s Post Bank for its support of proliferation activities, bringing the number of Iranian-owned banks on US sanctions list to 16.
The US announced adding five front companies and more than 90 ship names that Iran’s national maritime carrier has been allegedly using to try to evade sanctions.
“We are adding two individuals and four entities that are part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which plays a key role in Iran’s missile programmes and its support for terrorism,” Geithner said.
It also added two individuals and two entities that are actively involved in Iran’s nuclear or missile programmes.
It identified 22 petroleum, energy, and insurance companies, located inside and outside Iran, which are owned or controlled by the Iranian government.
“In the coming weeks, we will continue to increase the financial pressure on Iran. We will continue to target Iran’s support for terrorist organisations. We will continue to focus on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
“We will continue to expose Iran’s efforts to evade international sanctions,” Geithner said.
The Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey, said Iran began to use Post Bank to facilitate international trade.
“Post Bank stepped into the shoes of Bank Sepah, which is under United Nations sanctions, to carry out Bank Sepah’s transactions and hide its identity.
“International banks that would never deal with Bank Sepah have been handling these transactions that they think are really for Post Bank,” he said.
The US is taking additional action against Iran’s national maritime carrier, IRISL.
“Since we first sanctioned IRISL in 2008, it has desperately attempted to evade those sanctions by setting up new front companies, renaming and reflagging and even repainting its vessels to hide their true ownership. It has also been caught violating UNSC sanctions,” Geithner said.
“Our actions today expose IRISL’s deception and make it more difficult for IRISL to carry out illegal activities,” he said.
Levey said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps plays a key role in Iran’s missile programme and its support for terrorism, and has also taken over broad portions of the Iranian economy to the detriment of the Iranian people.
Levey said: “With today’s designations, we have now sanctions on 26 entities and individuals connected to the IRGC, and we will continue to do so. No IRGC entity should have any place in the world’s legitimate financial system,” he said.
The Revolutionary Guard, not only is engaged in illicit activity, but it’s taking economic opportunities from the people of Iran, Levey alleged in response to a question.
“The actions that we’re taking today increase both the governmental pressure on Iran and point out facts that will assist the private sector, in its efforts to protect itself from Iran’s illicit and deceptive activity,” Levey said at a separate briefing with reports at the Treasury.
Observing that officials in Iran have been anxious about these new round of sanctions, he said: “If they hold true to form, they will scramble to identify work—arounds, hiding behind front companies, doctoring wire transfers, falsifying shipping documents.
“We will continue to expose this deception, much as we have done today, and thereby reinforce the reasons and the dynamic whereby the private sector is increasingly shunning Iran”.