December 8, 2022

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US sanctions companies for helping Iran ship oil to East Asia

The Biden administration on Monday slapped sanctions on companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China that the U.S. says are helping ship Iranian oil to East Asia.  

The Treasury Department said that the companies together were helping Iran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co. sell tens of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products. Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co. has been sanctioned by the U.S. since 2019. 

Treasury announced sanctions on four companies — one based in the UAE and three others based in Hong Kong. The State Department also sanctioned two shipping companies for transporting the oil from Iran to East Asia.  

The new sanctions come as the Biden administration continues to pursue a return to the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Those efforts seem to have stalled, but officials say they are still trying to convince Iran to return to the agreement.  

“The United States continues to pursue the path of diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Brian Nelson, Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement on Monday.  

“Until such time as Iran is ready to return to full implementation of its commitments, we will continue to enforce sanctions on the illicit sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals,” Nelson said.  

During a trip to Israel last month, President Biden said the U.S. wouldn’t “wait forever” for Iran to return to the nuclear deal, without laying out a specific timeline. Former President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and Biden campaigned on reentering the accord, which he argues is the best means of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  

“They have an opportunity to accept; this agreement has been laid down. If they don’t, we have made it absolutely clear: We will not — let me say it again — we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Biden said during a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in July.  

On Monday, Treasury designated UAE-based Blue Cactus Heavy Equipment and Machinery Spare Parts Trading LLC, as well as Hong Kong-based Farwell Canyon HK Limited, Shekufei International Trading Co., Limited and PZNFR Trading Limited.  

The companies sanctioned by the State Department are Pioneer Shipmanagement PTE LTD and Golden Warrior Shipping Co. Ltd. 

The Biden administration announced a similar round of sanctions in early July.  
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