The United States has imposed sanctions on dozens of shipping companies in Europe over their alleged links to Iran’s nuclear program.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the companies -- based in Germany, Malta, and Cyprus -- are all “front companies” owned by or acting for the Islamic Republic Of Iran Shipping Lines.
The Treasury Department alleges that these firms are being used to advance Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions target companies linked to "Iran's use of its national maritime carrier to advance its illicit weapons of mass destruction program and to carry military cargoes."
The sanctions prohibit transactions between the companies and U.S. citizens.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Iran so far has not accepted an offer by the European Union's foreign affairs and security chief, Catherine Ashton, to meet for three days in mid-November in Vienna to discuss nuclear issues.
The meeting would involve the EU along with the five permanent veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia -- plus Germany.
compiled from agency reports