TEHRAN (FNA)- Washington announced sanctions against Iran’s main shipping company yesterday, broadening its efforts against Tehran’s nuclear program.
Sanctions from the US and the United Nations were previously focused on entities that worked directly on Iran’s nuclear and missile program or were under the command of the country’s Revolutionary Guard.
But over the past 18 months, Washington and European countries have taken steps against Iran’s financial sector, notably banning business with Bank Melli, the country’s biggest bank.
Yesterday’s announcement of measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 18 other affiliated entities shifts the US’s efforts into the economic sphere. The company is Iran’s national maritime carrier and the subsidiaries listed by the US involve groups in China, continental Europe and the UK.
The US Treasury Department said the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Iran’s national maritime carrier, and the affiliates provided logistical support for Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics and that they lied about their activities.
The department said it was banning any transactions between US citizens and IRISL and its affiliates and would try to freeze any assets the companies have under US jurisdiction.
The sanctions are the latest US step to raise pressure against Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.
Iran has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, saying that renouncing its rights under the NPT would encourage world powers to put further pressure on the country and would not lead to a change in the West’s hardline stance on Tehran.
Iran insists that it should continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
The Islamic Republic says that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Iran’s UN Mission said the new sanctions were another display of US hostility toward Iran based on false claims about Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Such actions on the part of the United States are counterproductive, will not help in finding a solution to resolving any issues, and would only make the situation more complicated,” the mission said in a statement.
IRISL is a global operator with a worldwide network of subsidiaries and connects Iranian exporters and importers with South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.