U.S. targets more companies, individuals for evading Iran sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, center, walks to a briefing Wednesday for senators on the status of nuclear talks.
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, center, walks to a briefing Wednesday for senators on the status of nuclear talks.
(Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Thursday blacklisted more than a dozen companies and individuals for allegedly helping Iran evade international sanctions, in a move aimed at showing it would maintain pressure on Tehran even after an interim nuclear deal reached last month in Geneva.

Administration officials described the addition of 17 companies and individuals to the federal blacklist as a sign it would vigorously enforce existing sanctions, which President Obama says were crucial in bringing the Iranian regime to the negotiating table.

At the same time, the administration has been trying to persuade members of Congress who back new sanctions that such a move could torpedo chances for a long-term, comprehensive deal to curb Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

Under the interim accord reached with world powers last month in Geneva, Iran agreed to limited curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for some relief from sanctions. The deal is due to last six months, during which Iran, the United States and allies would negotiate a comprehensive agreement.


The Geneva deal “does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran’s nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions,” David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

“These sanctions have isolated Iran from the international financial system, imposed enormous pressure on the Iranian economy and motivated the Iranian leadership to make the first meaningful concessions on its nuclear program in over a decade.”

Earlier this week, the Obama administration appeared to be succeeding in its bid to fend off attempts in Congress to pass new sanctions legislation. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said he would not introduce new sanctions legislation because the administration had “made a strong case” against undermining the upcoming talks with Iran.

The entities named Thursday include four companies — two in Singapore, one in the Philippines and one based in Ukraine — that allegedly conducted transactions on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., Iran’s main shipper of crude oil, which has been placed under U.S. sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s oil industry.

The State Department also listed five Iranian entities for supplying materials or support to Tehran’s nuclear-enrichment and ballistic missile programs in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. They include Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing Co., which has supplied parts for centrifuges used to enrich uranium since at least 2008, U.S. officials said.

The government action bars transactions with the designated individuals and companies, freezes any assets they hold under U.S. jurisdiction and would block foreign entities who do business with them from access to the U.S. financial system.

Twitter: @SBengali