The United States ratcheted up its sanctions against Iran on Thursday, blacklisting a number of firms and individuals for contributing to what it says is an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
The actions impose additional sanctions on Iran’s “nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation networks” and identifies more than 50 Iranian “front companies and banks,” the Treasury Department said.
“These actions are part of the United States government’s dual-track approach of increasing pressure to convince Iran to engage seriously and address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program.”
David Cohen, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the moves take “direct aim at disrupting Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as its deceptive efforts to use front companies to sell and move its oil.”
“We will continue to ratchet up the pressure,” he said.
The United States and European Union have implemented an oil embargo against Iran, leading to a substantial decline in exports of crude from which the Islamic republic draws two-thirds of its foreign exchange earnings.
Iran been subject to severe international economic sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which Western powers believe masks an atomic weapons drive despite repeated denials by Tehran.
In Thursday’s actions, the U.S. Treasury and State departments targeted 11 entities and four people, alleging that many of them are part of a network of proliferators headed by Iran’s Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics and its subsidiary, Aerospace Industries Organization.
A number of sanctions were added against Iran’s national maritime carrier, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Both the IRISL and the IRGC have been the target of a numerous sanctions actions by the United States and its partners, the department noted.