3 April 2004 -- The United States has imposed sanctions on 13 foreign companies because they are suspected of selling equipment to Iran that could be used to build nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
The companies will be banned from exporting goods to U.S. government agencies and U.S. firms will be barred from doing business with them for two years.
U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the companies affected are from seven countries.
"Pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, the United States imposed penalties on 13 companies that engaged in providing prohibited items to Iran. Those companies include five Chinese, two Macedonian, two Russian and one of -- one from Belarus, one from North Korea, one from Taiwan, and one from the United Arab Emirates," he said.
Ereli did not name the companies concerned, except for the one in North Korea, a state-run company named Changgwang Sinyong Corp.
Ereli said the penalties apply only to the companies, but not to their respective governments.
"The penalties were imposed pursuant to the Act because there was credible information indicating that these companies had transferred to Iran, since January 1st, 1999, either equipment and technology on the export -- multilateral export control lists or items such as those on the list but falling below control list parameters or other items with the potential of making a material contribution to proscribed programs," he said.
Ereli said that 23 entities have been subject to sanctions since the law took effect.
Earlier this week sanctions were lifted on six Russian companies after U.S. authorities determined that the companies had stopped the activity for which they were originally sanctioned.
Ereli said U.S. officials regularly discussed the issue of exports to Iran with the governments of China and Russia, and are in the process of informing officials in the remaining countries.
"There is always, I think, more that we can all do, in terms of enforcement of regulations and making the regulatory environment more strict and implementing export control, existing export-control mechanisms. But it is, to put it simply, an important subject of ongoing discussion with the host countries, and it's something that we really engage on very, very consistently," Ereli said.
Undersecretary of State John Bolton last month accused Iran of concealing a nuclear weapons program and vowed to
maintain international pressure on Tehran to reveal its efforts.