U.S. imposes ballistic missile sanctions on Iran

The new sanctions were delayed due to more than two weeks tense negotiations to free five American prisoners

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The United States imposed sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran’s ballistic missile program, the U.S. Treasury Department said just a day after sanctions targeting its nuclear program were lifted.

Five Iranian nationals and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China were added to an American blacklist, the U.S. Treasury Department announced in a statement.

The network “obfuscated the end user of sensitive goods for missile proliferation by using front companies in third countries to deceive foreign suppliers,” the statement said, adding that the five individuals had “worked to procure ballistic missile components for Iran.”

Adam J. Szubin, acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that “Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions.”

President Barack Obama in an address on Sunday also said the United States still had profound differences with Iran and would continue to enforce sanctions against its ballistic missile program.

The new sanctions come after the Obama administration delayed the action for more than two weeks during tense negotiations to free five American prisoners, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Sunday, three Iranian-Americans left Tehran under a prisoner swap following the lifting of sanctions on Iran that is likely to thaw ties further with the United States as Tehran emerges from years of international isolation.

A U.S. official said the Swiss plane had left carrying Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Michigan, as well as some family members.

But one of the four, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, was not on the plane that left Tehran on Sunday, a senior U.S. official said.

(With AFP, Reuters)

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