Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions

Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions
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The Trump administration Wednesday placed new sanctions on an Iranian shipping network and airline for allegedly smuggling lethal aid into Yemen and proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

The sanctions blacklist a shipping network led by Iranian businessman Abdolhossein Khedri that the administration says sent lethal aid to forces in Yemen on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its elite paramilitary and espionage arm, the Quds Force. The sanctions also target three general sales agents of Mahan Air over its alleged role in proliferating weapons of mass destruction. 

“The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Katie Porter in heated exchange with Mnuchin: 'You're play-acting to be a lawyer' MORE said in a statement. “Aviation and shipping industries should be vigilant and not allow their industries to be exploited by terrorists.”


The Treasury Department said Khedri’s network has supported the IRGC and Quds Force's smuggling mission since last year, including sending financial, material, or technological support or goods or services to armed groups in Yemen.

Mahan Air has a long history of being under U.S. scrutiny, having been designated in 2011 of supporting the IRGC and Quds Force. The airline is accused of transporting operatives, weapons, equipment and funds abroad. It is also said to have moved weapons and personnel for the Lebanese group Hezbollah and flying fighters to Syria to prop up President Bashar Assad. 

The new sanctions mean that all property and interests of the people targeted that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of Americans will be blocked and reported to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. 

The designation of Mahan Air and three of its general sales agents is effective immediately, while designations for IRISL and E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd will have a brief wind-down period to allow those shipping humanitarian goods to Iran to find alternate methods, said Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS to temporarily withdraw some embassy personnel in Baghdad: report Pompeo to host indoor holiday parties at State Department despite warning to employees to hold some missions virtually The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Pressure builds as UK approves COVID-19 vaccine MORE in a statement.

"These designations should serve as a warning that doing business with IRISL, E-Sail, or Mahan Air risks contributing to Iran’s proliferation-sensitive programs, including its nuclear and missile programs," he said.

The new sanctions come just days after a prisoner exchange that brought a Chinese American graduate student back to the U.S. from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Administration officials and lawmakers said they hoped the exchange could open a door to further negotiations on other issues with Iran.