US imposes new sanctions on Iran over weapons programs

The United States on Friday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions on 14 individuals and 17 entities connected to Tehran's weapons of mass destruction programs. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 March 2019
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US imposes new sanctions on Iran over weapons programs

  • Among those designated for sanctions was the Shahid Karimi group, which works on missile and explosive-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals
  • The move freezes any US assets of those targeted and bans US dealings with them

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Friday it was imposing sanctions on 14 people and 17 entities connected to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), a body it said had played a central role in Iran’s past nuclear weapons effort.
Among those designated for sanctions was the Shahid Karimi group, which works on missile and explosive-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals, the US Treasury Department said in a Statement.
“The US government is taking decisive action against actors at all levels in connection with Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) who have supported the Iranian regime’s defense sector,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
“The United States will continue applying maximum pressure to the Iranian regime, using all economic tools to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction. Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation.”
It said the steps targeted current SPND subordinate groups, supporters, front companies, and associated officials. The move freezes any US assets of those targeted and bans US dealings with them.
"Today’s action serves as a warning to individuals and entities considering dealing with the Iranian regime’s defense sector in general, and SPND in particular: by engaging in sanctionable activity with designated Iranian persons, you risk professional, personal, and financial isolation," the Treasury statement said.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday that Tehran was determined to boost its defense capabilities despite mounting pressure from the United States and its allies to curb its ballistic missile program.


US demands Iran free seized ship, vows to protect Gulf oil lifeline

Updated 6 min 12 sec ago
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US demands Iran free seized ship, vows to protect Gulf oil lifeline

  • Washington blames Iran for a series of attacks on shipping since mid-May in the world’s most important oil artery

DUBAI: The US on Thursday demanded Iran immediately release a vessel it seized in the Gulf and a US military commander in the region said the US would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.

Responding to an announcement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that they had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel, the US State Department insisted Iran had to free the ship and its crew and stop harassing vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

The US blames Iran for a series of attacks on shipping since mid-May in the world’s most important oil artery, accusations Tehran rejects but that have raised fears the long-time foes could stumble into war.

“The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

“Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately.”

Refinitiv data showed that the last signal received from the vessel was on Sunday when it was in the Strait of Hormuz off the Iranian island of Qeshm, heading toward Oman from Larak Island.

It was reported on Wednesday that shipping companies were hiring unarmed security guards for voyages through the Gulf as an extra safeguard.

US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, meanwhile, said Washington was talking to several countries about ensuring freedom of navigation in the Gulf and would work “aggressively” to find a solution to enable free passage. He was speaking in Riyadh at a news conference.

Also on Thursday, Britain urged Iran to ease tensions in the Gulf on Thursday and Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt told a defense conference Britain had “always, and we will continue, to protect shipping and the free flow of goods in that area.”