June 8 (UPI) -- The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Iran on Monday that target the Middle Eastern nation's shipping network over allegations of supporting Tehran's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The sanctions, previously announced in December, went into effect Monday against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and its Shanghai-based subsidiary E-Sail Shipping Company after a 180-day wind-down period to allow humanitarian goods companies time to find alternative methods to ship their wares into the Middle Eastern nation, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
"Now that this generous delay has come to an end, those in the commercial and maritime industries doing business with Iran must use carriers or shipping methods other than IRISL or E-Sail; any government, entity or individual that chooses to continue doing business with IRISL and/or E-Sail now risks exposure to U.S. WMD sanctions," he said.
In December, Pompeo told reporters IRISL was "the shipping line of choice" for Iranian procuring agents and has contributed to Tehran's proliferation of WMDs. ESAIL, he said, ships "illicit materials" from Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization that oversees its weapons industry.
The Trump administration has repeatedly imposed sanctions against Tehran as part of its so-called maximum pressure campaign to force it back to the negotiation table over a new nuclear pact after President Donald Trump withdrew from an Obama-era multination nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018.
On Monday, Pompeo urged international authorities to investigate all activity in their ports associated with the two Iranian shipping companies and to "take appropriate action to put a halt to it."
"The world must be vigilant and take action to prevent Iran from acquiring proliferation-sensitive items that further threaten regional stability and security," he said.