By Jennifer Hansler, CNN
The Biden administration imposed sanctions Thursday on multiple entities involved in evading sanctions on Iranian oil and petrochemicals, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement.
The new sanctions come as efforts to restore the Iran nuclear deal have once again stalled, and as the United States remains “concerned about a wide range of Iranian policies, from their nuclear program, to abuses perpetrated against their own people, to supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine with drones and military training, and destabilizing activities across the region,” as the Treasury Department said in a separate statement.
“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,” Blinken said, using the acronym for the formal name of the nuclear deal: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“These enforcement actions will continue on a regular basis, with an aim to severely restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports,” he said. “Anyone involved in facilitating these illegal sales and transactions should cease and desist immediately if they wish to avoid U.S. sanctions.”
Thursday’s State Department sanctions hit China-based “Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd., which operates a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian petroleum that provides a vital conduit for the Iranian petroleum trade, as well as WS Shipping Co. Ltd., the ship manager for a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products,” Blinken said.
The Treasury Department also targeted other entities based in Hong Kong, Iran, India, and the United Arab Emirates.
The department noted that the sanctions “are reversible in the event of Iran’s return to JCPOA compliance.”
However, US and European officials have voiced pessimism over the prospects of a return to the deal, from which the US withdrew in 2018. Iran has increasingly breached its commitments under the agreement and grown its nuclear program.
On Sunday, Blinken told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he does not “see any prospects in the very near term” to bring about a return to the Iran nuclear deal.
“Iran has continued to try to add extraneous issues to the negotiation that we’re simply not going to say yes to,” he said.
“We will not accept a bad deal, the response that they’ve given to the last proposals put forward by our European partners have been a very significant step backwards,” Blinken said.
In addition to the nuclear deal related sanctions, last week, the administration sanctioned Iran’s Morality Policy following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in their custody.
In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it was sanctioning the morality police “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors.”
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