The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on over a dozen companies based in China, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates that Washington accused of facilitating the sale of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to buyers in East Asia.
The latest US move against Iranian oil smuggling comes as efforts to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear deal have stalled and ties between the Islamic Republic and the West are increasingly strained as Iranians keep up anti-government protests.
Washington has increasingly targeted Chinese companies over the export of Iran's petrochemicals as the prospects of reviving the nuclear pact have dimmed. Indirect talks on the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have broken down.
The US Treasury Department in a statement said the 13 companies designated on Thursday facilitated the sales of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products to buyers in East Asia on behalf of companies under US sanctions, including the National Iranian Oil Company and Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd.
“Today’s action further demonstrates the complex sanctions evasion methods Iran employs to illicitly sell petroleum and petrochemical products,” the Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.
“The United States will continue to implement sanctions against those actors facilitating these sales.”