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US Sanctions Network for Procuring Material for Iran Nuclear Program

US Sanctions Network for Procuring Material for Iran Nuclear Program

Friday, 19 July, 2019 - 05:00
A sign marks the US Treasury Department in Washington, US, August 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States imposed on Thursday sanctions on an international network of companies for acting as a supply network for Tehran's nuclear enrichment program.

The companies served as a procurement network for Iran's Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA), which produces enrichment centrifuges for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), the Treasury said.

The network was led by Iranian firm Bakhtar Raad Sepahan and its overseas affiliates. It also included a Chinese firm, Henan Jiayuan Aluminum Industry Company, which was also sanctioned.

The Treasury said Henan Jiayuan Aluminum Industry was contracted to sell aluminum goods worth more than $500,000, including NSG-controlled items, to TAWU BVBA for use by TESA.

The blacklist includes Mohammad Fakhrzadeh, a commercial director for TESA. The Treasury accused him of coordinating the purchase of “various Chinese aluminum goods that are associated with Iranian centrifuge components.”

Also blacklisted is TAWU BVBA’s managing director, Sohayl Talebi, who the Treasury said had an extensive background in metallurgical engineering.

The Treasury also sanctioned Iran-based Sabz Co, accusing it of sales to TESA of alloy parts worth tens of thousands of dollars. It clinched deals with Chinese companies to purchase metal materials for end-use by TESA, the Treasury added.

Other sanctioned entities are front companies based in China and Belgium, the Treasury said.

"Treasury is taking action to shut down an Iranian nuclear procurement network that leverages Chinese- and Belgium-based front companies to acquire critical nuclear materials and benefit the regime's malign ambitions," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

"Iran cannot claim benign intent on the world stage while it purchases and stockpiles products for centrifuges."

They are the first punitive steps by Washington since Tehran announced earlier this month it would increase its levels of enriched uranium that can be used for bomb fuel.

Tehran announced on July 1 that it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, marking its first major step beyond the terms of the pact since the United States withdrew more than a year ago.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal between Iran and six world powers in May 2018 and has since reimposed sanctions on many sectors including the crucial oil and financial industries.

Iran demanded the other parties -- France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia -- take steps to guarantee the economic benefits Iran was promised for the drastic limitations imposed on its nuclear program.

Trump warned last week that sanctions against Iran would be "increased substantially" after Tehran surpassed the enrichment cap in the 2015 deal.

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