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U.S. Sanctions Networks 'Supporting Iran's WMD Program'

By RFE/RL August 28, 2019

The United States has imposed sanctions on two networks it says are engaged in "covert procurement activities" benefiting Iranian military organizations and supporting Iran's "missile proliferation programs," the Treasury Department has said.

One of the networks used a Hong Kong-based front company to "evade U.S. and international sanctions and facilitate tens of millions of dollars' worth of proliferation activities targeting U.S. technology and components, for persons related to the [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] (IRGC) and the Iranian regime," the Treasury said in a statement.

It said the other network has "procured large amounts" of aluminum alloy products on behalf of Iranian entities "owned or controlled" by Iran's Defense Ministry.

"As the Iranian regime attempts to use complex schemes to hide its efforts to bolster its WMD [weapons of mass destruction] program, the U.S. government will continue to thwart them at every turn," Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said in the statement.

Mandelker urged governments around the world to "recognize the extraordinary lengths to which the regime in Tehran will go to conceal its behavior, and to ensure that their companies and financial institutions are not facilitating Iran's proliferation activities."

'Maximum Pressure'

The sanctions are part of a U.S. campaign "maximum pressure" on Iran to force Tehran to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missiles programs.

Washington last year withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Five other signatories remain committed to the accord under which Tehran agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions, but Iran has begun reducing some of its commitments under the agreement.

In announcing the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal in 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address Iran's missile program.

Tehran says its nuclear program was strictly for civilian energy purposes.

In a televised speech on August 28, Iranian President Hassan Rohani called for unity in order to overcome what he described as an "economic war" imposed on his country by the United States.

Trump earlier this week said he would agree to meet Rohani if "the circumstances were correct or right."

The Iranian president later responded by saying that, while Iran is open to talks, Washington must first "lift all illegal, unjust, and unfair sanctions imposed on Iran."

In an interview with RFE/RL on August 27 in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton said Trump's willingness to talk to Rohani does not imply that the U.S. president is about to change his tough stance on Iran.

Bolton said Trump has long made it clear "he'll meet with anybody to talk. He is a negotiator. He is a dealmaker."

"But talking with them does not imply -- for President Trump, [it] does not imply -- changing your position," he added.

With reporting by Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/u-s-sanctions -networks-supporting-iran-s -wmd-program-/30133740.html

Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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