The United States is targeting several companies and individuals for evading international sanctions against Iran and for providing support for Iran's nuclear program.
The Treasury and State departments said on December 12 that they are freezing assets and banning transactions of entities that they say are involved in the proliferation of material used for making weapons of mass destruction, and who are attempting to evade sanctions.
David Cohen, treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the action shows Washington is serious about maintaining the strength of the international sanctions regime as world powers explore the possibility of a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
"Just this morning, Treasury and State [departments] announced the designations of more than a dozen companies and individuals around the globe for evading sanctions and providing support for Iran's nuclear program," Cohen told the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in Washington. "The targets of today's actions were involved in a variety of sanctionable activities, from illicit funds transfers, to ship-to-ship oil transfers. No one should doubt our resolve to hold accountable those involved in illicit conduct."
Speaking at the same committee hearing, lead U.S. nuclear negotiator with Iran Wendy Sherman said Washington considers diplomacy the best way to solve the nuclear crisis. She called the join plan agreed between the six world powers (P5+1) and Iran last month in Geneva a good start to that process.
"The Iranian nuclear program is one of the most serious threats to U.S. national security and to our interests in the Middle East," Sherman said. "Thanks to sanctions and a firm and united position from the P5+1, we have reached an understanding that is the most significant step to curb Iran's nuclear program in nearly a decade. Put plainly, this understanding is profoundly in America's national security interest and it does make our regional partners safer and more secure."
The statements come amid an effort by the Obama administration to press the U.S. Congress to hold off on additional sanctions while world powers pursue a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and RFE/RL