(Photo credit: Reuters)
On 29 September, the United States sanctioned a set of companies they suspected of being involved in Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum trade, including some companies based in China, and warned of further actions should Iran fail to comply.
“Today we took further actions to disrupt efforts to evade sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products,” tweeted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.
“These enforcement actions will continue on a regular basis, with an aim to severely restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports,” Blinken warned.
The press release “Designating Iran Petroleum and Petrochemical Sanctions Evaders” published by the US state department, declared that it was imposing sanctions on two Chinese-based entities, Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co. Ltd. and WS Shipping Co. Ltd. for their business operations with Iran.
Zhonggu Storage “operates a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian petroleum that provides a vital conduit for the Iranian petroleum trade,” said the statement. Whereas the second company is “the ship manager for a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products,” according to the US government.
On the other hand, the US Department of the Treasury also imposed sanctions on a network of companies accused of selling hundreds of millions of dollars in Iranian petrochemical and petroleum products to users in South and East Asia.
Tehran and Washington had been in talks over the past 16 months to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), while the agreement was expected to come into effect over the next couple of weeks, progress seems to have stalled.
Tehran also held direct talks with the remaining signatories of the JCPOA – France, Germany, the UK, Russia, and China.
“As Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program in violation of the JCPOA, we will continue to accelerate our enforcement of sanctions on Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical sales under authorities that would be removed under the JCPOA,” the State Department’s press release said.
The US State Department also warned that “anyone involved in facilitating these illegal sales and transactions should cease and desist immediately if they wish to avoid U.S. sanctions.”
The Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement in 2018 under the so-called ‘maximum pressure campaign to impose aggressive sanctions on the Islamic Republic.