Thursday, June 20, 2024

US sanctions Iranian, Chinese Individuals, entities over Tehran’s defense program

The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on over a dozen people and organizations in Iran, China and Hong Kong, including Iran's defense attache in Beijing, for "running a procurement network" for Iran's missile program. Tehran says the missile program is totally for peaceful purposes and no measure can strip Iran of its legitimate and legal right to boost its defensive capabilities.

The U.S. Treasury Department statement said the network conducted transactions and enabled the procurement of sensitive and critical parts and technology for key actors in Iran’s ballistic missile development, including Iran’s defense ministry and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) agency, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Among those hit with sanctions in the action was Iran’s defense attache in Beijing, Davoud Damghani, whom the Treasury accused of coordinating military-related procurements from China for Iranian end-users, including MODAFL subsidiaries.

“The United States will continue to target illicit transnational procurement networks that covertly support Iran’s ballistic missile production and other military programs,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

China and Iran in March 2021 signed a 25-year cooperation agreement to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance.

Washington targeted centrifuge sales to Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI), dual-use metals sales to its intermediary, P.B. Sadr, and MODAFL’s electronics procurement in Tuesday’s action. Both PCI and P.B. Sadr were previously hit with sanctions by the United States.

Among those targeted were China-based Zhejiang Qingji Ind. Co., Ltd, which the Treasury accused of selling centrifuges and other equipment and services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to PCI with P.B. Sadr as an intermediary.

Its director and an employee were also targeted, as well as Hong Kong-based Lingoe Process Engineering Limited, which the Treasury said served as a front company for Zhejiang Qingji and its dealings with PCI and P.B. Sadr.

Also among those hit with sanctions were Hong Kong Ke.Do International Trade Co., Limited and China-based Qingdao Zhongrongtong Trade Development Co., Ltd., which the Treasury accused of engaging in the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of dual-use, nonferrous metals to P.B. Sadr.

Western countries claim that Iran’s missile tests and rocket launches violate UN Resolution 2231, adopted in July 2015 to endorse the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Iran has strongly rejected the US allegations that it has violated the UN resolution, insisting that its missile tests and rocket launches are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Iran has always said that the nuclear deal does not affect its right to build and have a strong national defense, especially after facing international sanctions preventing it from buying weapons to defend itself against the eight-year war that Iraq started in 1980.

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