The State Department under Secretary Antony Blinken announced sanctions Thursday against a network of Iranian petrochemical producers. File Photo by Michael A. McCoy/UPI | License Photo
June 17 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has sanctioned a network of Iranian petrochemical producers and front companies in China and the United Arab Emirates on accusations they brokered international sales of Iranian petrochemicals.
The sanctions were announced by the departments of State and Treasury on Thursday, which accused the network of helping Iran evade sanctions and support its sale of petrochemical products to China and other nations in East Asia.
The sanctions target three petrochemical producers in Iran, and two front companies in Hong Kong and four in the United Arab Emirates. Two people, Jingfeng Gao of China and Mohammad Shaheed Ruknooddin Bhore of India, were also hit with sanctions, which freeze all U.S. assets in their name and bar Americans from doing business with them.
The sanctions come as Washington seeks a return to the negotiating table with Tehran over the resumption of an Obama-era multination nuclear pact that was aimed at preventing the Middle Eastern nation from securing atomic weapons.
"The Biden administration has been sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," State Secretary Antony Blinken said in a statement. "Absent a deal, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to limit exports of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemical products from Iran."
The multination JCPOA, which limited Iran's nuclear fuel production in exchange for sanctions relief, was reached with Tehran in 2015, but President Barack Obama's successor, President Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the deal three years later, calling it "defective at its core" and reinstated sanctions.
In response, Iran has repeatedly reneged on its responsibilities under the deal and earlier this month Rafael Mariano Gross, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran has removed 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites across the country, suggesting it is moving even further away from the deal.
"The United States is pursuing the path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," Brian Nelson, the under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial intelligence, said in a statement. "The United States will continue to expose the networks Iran uses to conceal sanctions evasion activities."