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US imposes new Iran-related sanctions on several international companies

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (AFP file photo)

The United States has slapped illegal sanctions on a number of international companies saying they are involved in Iran's petrochemical and petroleum trade, including some firms based in China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Thursday warned of further actions to enforce its economic curbs on Tehran.

Blinken said the US imposed sanctions on two China-based companies, Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd, and WS Shipping Co Ltd, saying these companies are helping Iran to sell its Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products, according to Reuters.

The US Treasury Department also placed sanctions on a network of companies saying it was involved in the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petrochemical and petroleum products to users in South and East Asia.

The Treasury said it targeted Iranian brokers and front companies based in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and India.

The United States, under former president Donald Trump, abandoned the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018 and reinstated unilateral sanctions that the agreement had lifted.

The talks to salvage the agreement kicked off in the Austrian capital of Vienna in April last year, months after Joe Biden succeeded Trump, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.

Despite notable progress, the US indecisiveness and procrastination caused multiple interruptions in the marathon talks.

In recent weeks, there have been unfruitful, indirect exchanges of responses between Tehran and Washington over an EU draft proposal on restoring the JCPOA, with Iranian officials urging their American counterparts to show “realism” and “flexibility” in order to secure a deal.

European diplomats say talks now appear headed toward a pause until after the US mid-term elections on November 8.

"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 in the statement on Thursday, making baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic.

"These enforcement actions will continue on a regular basis, with an aim to severely restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports,” he declared.


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