US targets firms linked to Iran's nuclear program

The State and Treasury departments on Thursday designated companies officials say have not obeyed sanctions against Iran, and have supported its nuclear program.

Companies such as Mid Oil Asia, Singa Tankers, Siqiriya Maritime, Ferland Company Limited and Vitaly Sokolenko are among those that the U.S. says have evaded sanctions imposed against Iran. 

The action prohibits Americans from engaging in transactions with the listed companies and freezes assets.

“We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our sanctions regime and to exposing the Government of Iran’s efforts to use deceptive practices and front companies to further its nuclear program,” the State Department said in a release. 

Officials also announced the U.S. is imposing a series of “targeted, conduct-based sanctions on individuals, firms, and financial institutions” that have had involvement with Iran’s nuclear program. 

“The Joint Plan of Action reached in Geneva 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” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said in a statement.

The Obama administration has been pressuring lawmakers to hold off on tougher sanctions because of the interim deal the U.S. and its allies reached with Iran recently over its nuclear program. The six-month deal freezes the program, allows international inspections and limits the amount of uranium Iran can enrich.

Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday about the deal in an effort to persuade skeptical members of Congress not to advance sanctions.

Leaders of crucial panels, such as the House Armed Services and the Senate Banking committees, have suggested this week they wouldn’t move forward with those measures.