The Treasury Department on Thursday issued new sanctions against Iran for its missile and nuclear activities by targeting front companies and banks involved in illicit trade.
"Iran today is under intense, multilateral sanctions pressure, and we will continue to ratchet up the pressure so long as Iran refuses to address the international community’s well-founded concerns about its nuclear program," said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.
"Today’s actions are our next step on that path, taking direct aim at disrupting Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as its deceptive efforts to use front companies to sell and move its oil," he said.
A senior administration official briefing reporters on the new sanctions said efforts to squeeze Tehran were having a "dramatic impact" on Iran’s ability to sell oil and access the revenue from those sales.
The official said current estimates show that about 700,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day are being blocked for sale. Earlier this year, Iran was exporting around 2.3 million barrels a day; exports are now down to 1.6 million barrels a day.
Along with European Union oil sanctions and recent U.S. law targeting Iran’s oil sales, "the ability of Iran to sell oil will diminish," the official said, noting, "Additional oil will come off the market in the ensuing weeks and months."
Critics of the Obama administration have said issuing waivers to several countries, including China, to buy Iranian oil have undercut the effectiveness of the sanctions.
Four Iranian front companies, 20 banks, and scores of ships were sanctioned under a presidential executive order and singled out as entities that cannot trade with U.S. banks or companies.
The action by Treasury targets Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation by exposing key facilitators, including Iran’s Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL); Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO); Iran’s national maritime carrier; Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL); and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
A total of 57 Iranian vessels associated with Iran’s state-run shipping lines were also identified. Many of the ships had been renamed and reflagged to limit international tracking of their cargo.
The MODAFL directs Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the Pentagon said was growing more lethal and accurate in a report made public this week.
The AIO, a unit under MODAFL, is in charge of overseeing all Iranian missile industries.
Two other companies, Electronic Components Industries Co. (ECI) and Information Systems Iran (ISIRAN), were sanctioned for their sales of electro-optics and lasers, communication equipment, telecommunication security equipment, electronic warfare equipment, new and refurbished radar tubes, and missile launchers.
ISIRAN is a large Iranian information technology company that builds mainframes, minicomputers, and computer hardware and software.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line was sanctioned, as was the United Arab Emirates’ Good Luck Shipping, an Iranian front.
Nuclear-related Iranian companies identified by Treasury include Pentane Chemistry Industries (PCI), which was linked to Iran’s heavy water reactor.
An Iranian nuclear procurement agent, Hossein Tanideh, also was sanctioned. He is PCI vice president and a key procurement agent for Tehran.
Another Iranian nuclear entity identified by Treasury is the Center for Innovation and Technology Cooperation (CITC).
To try to undercut Iranian efforts to evade sanctions, Treasury also identified several Iranian overseas front companies, including Petro Suisse Intertrade Company SA (Petro Suisse), in Switzerland; Hong Kong Intertrade Company, a Hong Kong-based company; Noor Energy Ltd, in Malaysia; and Petro Energy Intertrade Company, a Dubai-based company.
"Each of these entities are front companies for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. (NICO), or Naftiran Intertrade Co. (NICO) Sarl (NICO Sarl)," the State Department said in a fact sheet.