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US imposes sanctions on Chinese, South African firms over Iran deals

Iran's petrochemical industry (National Iranian Oil Company/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has imposed sanctions on nine companies and three individuals for allegedly doing business with Iran’s petrochemical industry.

Three Chinese and three Hong-Kong-based companies, two interrelated South African firms, and the Iranian Armed Forces Social Security Investment Company are suspected of “knowingly engaging in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of petrochemical products from Iran,” according to a State Department statement issued on March 18.

Three executives of one of the entities — Mohammad Hassan Toulai, Hossein Tavakkoli, and Reza Ebadzadeh Semnani — were also sanctioned.

The State Department says the entities and individuals “engaged in activity that could enable regime’s violent behavior.”

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“The actions of these individuals and entities provide revenue to the regime that it may use to fund terror and other destabilizing activities, such as the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces located at Camp Taji in Iraq,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“Our sanctions will deprive the regime of critical income from its petrochemical industry and further Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation. The United States will continue to fully enforce our sanctions,” he added.

On March 14, a number of rockets hit a military base housing U.S. and other coalition troops at Camp Taji north of Baghdad, wounding three U.S. troops, two of them seriously, and critically wounding two Iraqi air-defense personnel.

The attack came just days after a similar attack there killed three military personnel, including one British and two U.S. soldiers.