US imposes oil sanctions against Chinese companies accused of aiding Iran
The U.S. on Thursday sanctioned firms in China, India, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates that it alleges have aided Iran, tightening the screws as the Biden administration seeks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
New sanctions target two Chinese firms that the U.S. contends facilitate Iranian petroleum trade, according to a release from the State Department.
U.S. officials said Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd. operates a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian oil while WS Shipping Co. Ltd. has managed a ship that transported Iranian oil.
The State Department slapped additional designations on eight entities elsewhere in Asia for their involvement in Iran’s petrochemical trade.
Officials said the moves to restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical sales are a response to the country’s violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement that allowed Iran some relief from U.S. sanctions in return for controls on its nuclear program.
“As Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program in violation of the JCPOA, we will continue to accelerate our enforcement of sanctions on Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical sales under authorities that would be removed under the JCPOA,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said the “international network of companies” was sanctioned because the companies facilitated the sale of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products, according to a release from the Treasury.
The firms were “involved in the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to end users in South and East Asia,” according to Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The new economic sanctions come after the Treasury Department sanctioned Iran’s “morality police” and other security forces in the country after a 22-year-old woman detained for violating Iran’s strict dress code died in police custody.