U.S. targets entities, persons linked to Iran's nuke program
The Obama administration on Thursday revved up the pressure on Iran over its controversial nuclear program by imposing sanctions on seven more entities and five individuals.
The Departments of Treasury and State accused the companies and persons of providing the Iranian government with "unique goods, technology and services that increase the regime's ability to enrich uranium and/or to construct a heavy water research reactor. "
The Treasury said the move targeted the international procurement operations of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company and Iran's uranium enrichment program.
"So long as Iran continues to pursue a nuclear program in defiance of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, the U.S. will target those involved in Iran's illicit enrichment activities, " said David Cohen, under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.
"We will continue to work with our international partners to intensify the pressure on Iran as long as it continues these types of activities,"he said in a statement.
The latest move bars American citizens from doing business with those companies and individuals, and freezes all of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction.
Foreign financial institutions that facilitate "significant" transactions for them could be denied access to the U.S. financial sector, the Treasury said.
The companies targeted by Washington are Pouya Control, Iran Pooya, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Faratech, Neda Industrial Group, Tarh O Palayesh and Towlid Abzar Boreshi Iran.
And the individuals are Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, Seyed Jaber Safdari, Morteza Ahmadali Behzad, Amir Hossein Rahimyar and Mohammad Reza Rezvanianzadeh.
The Obama administration set a March deadline late last month for Iran to begin "substantive cooperation" with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its nuclear program or face the UN Security Council.
Iran said on Thursday that its one-day talks with IAEA experts in its capital of Tehran, the first since August, were " constructive."
Iran is a frequent target of sanctions by Washington and its allies though the Islamic republic insists on the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
The Western countries see the program as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.