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US sanctions 13 companies for 'facilitating Iran petchem sales'

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)
File photo of the United States Department of Treasury's building in Washington D.C.

The US Department of Treasury has added the names of 13 companies to its Iran sanctions list, accusing them of commercial liaison with the Islamic Republic's energy sector.

The sanctions were announced by the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Thursday.

The companies in question, the OFAC announced in a statement on its website, were slapped with the coercive measures for "facilitating the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to buyers in East Asia."

The targeted entities would function as front companies "on behalf of sanctioned Iranian petrochemical brokers Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co. (PGPICC) and Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (Triliance), as well as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and its marketing arm, Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd. (NICO)," it added.

The OFAC said the sanctions marked the fifth round of designations targeting Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical trade since June 2022.

The United States began a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran under former American president Donald Trump.

As part of the campaign, Trump took the US out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world countries, and returned all the sanctions that the accord had lifted.

On his campaign trail, his successor Joe Biden alleged an interest to return Washington to the deal. The Biden administration has, however, not only stopped short of doing so, but has also been bringing the Islamic Republic under multiple rounds of fresh economic measures, in what Tehran slams as the Biden team's continuation of Trump's anti-Iran policies.

On October 3, 2018, the International Court of Justice issued an order that temporarily but unanimously required the US to remove any impediments on the importation of foodstuffs as well as medicines and medical devices to Iran.

The United States has, however, been refraining from implementing the verdict too, although, Iran has brought Washington's non-compliance with the order to the court’s attention on several occasions.

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