The United States has imposed sanctions on 39 entities, including many based in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, that Washington said facilitate Iran’s access to the global financial system, describing them as a “shadow banking” network that moves billions of dollars.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Thursday that those included in the sanctions had granted companies previously slapped with Iran-related sanctions – such as Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co (PGPICC) and Triliance Petrochemical Co Ltd – access to the international financial system and helped them hide their trade with foreign customers.
The latest US move against Iran comes as efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled, while ties between the Islamic Republic and the West have become increasingly strained as Iranians keep up anti-government protests.
Washington has targeted Chinese companies over the export of Iran’s petrochemicals as the prospects of reviving the nuclear pact have dimmed.
“Iran cultivates complex sanctions-evasion networks where foreign buyers exchange houses and dozens of front companies cooperatively help sanctioned Iranian companies to continue to trade,” said deputy Treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo.
He said the new measures showed the US commitment to enforcing sanctions and its “ability to disrupt Iran’s foreign financial networks, which it uses to launder funds”.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, DC said the US actions had no basis in international law and were “typical unilateral sanctions and illegal ‘long-arm jurisdiction’” detrimental to Chinese interests.
“We deplore and reject this move,” he said, adding China had “actively promoted peace talks and sought a political solution” in Ukraine, while the US “has been fanning the flame and fuelling the fight with more weaponry”.