US imposes sanctions on companies operating in Iran’s metals sector

The US on Thursday targeted Iran with another round of sanctions on eight firms, this time targeting steel and other metal companies. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 June 2020

US imposes sanctions on companies operating in Iran’s metals sector

  • The affected companies include five firms linked to Mobarakeh Steel Company
  • The company is the largest flat steel producer in the MENA region and accounts for 1% of Iran's GDP

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday blacklisted four steel, aluminum and iron companies operating in Iran's metals sector, as well as sales agents of Iran's largest steel manufacturer it said generate tens of millions of dollars for Tehran's metals industry.
The Treasury Department said in a statement it imposed sanctions on Tara Steel Trading GmbH, a Germany-based subsidiary of Mobarakeh Steel Co, three sales agents majority owned by the steel company, and Iran-based Metil Steel.
The Treasury said the sales agents "generated tens of millions of dollars annually from the foreign sale of Mobarakeh Steel Company products, providing significant contributions to the billions of dollars generated overall by Iran's steel, aluminum, copper, and iron sectors."
Mobarakeh Steel Co is the largest flat steel producer in the Middle East and North Africa and accounts for 1 percent of Iran's gross domestic product, the Treasury said. It has been designated by the United States under different authorities, including counterterrorism and for operating in Iran's metal sector.
Thursday's action also blacklisted three large aluminum, steel and iron producers in Iran, accusing them of contributing billions of dollars in sales and export of Iranian metals.
The sanctions freeze any US assets held by the companies and generally prohibit Americans from dealing with them.
Thursday's actions did not appear related to a Reuters report published on Wednesday disclosing Iran's production of aluminum powder for use in missiles.
"The Iranian regime continues to use profits from metals manufacturers and foreign sales agents to fund destabilizing behavior around the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.


Syrian, Russian airstrikes in Idlib amount to war crimes, as do extremist attacks — UN

Updated 07 July 2020

Syrian, Russian airstrikes in Idlib amount to war crimes, as do extremist attacks — UN

  • UN blames Syrian, Russian planes for bombing schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib

GENEVA: Syrian and Russian planes have carried out deadly aerial strikes amounting to war crimes on schools, hospitals and markets in Idlib province, UN investigators said on Tuesday in a report that also condemned attacks by extremist fighters.
They said that “indiscriminate bombardment” by pro-government forces, ahead of a March cease-fire brokered with Turkey, claimed hundreds of lives and forced nearly one million civilians to flee, which may amount to a crime against humanity.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria also accused Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a extremist group that controls part of northwest Syria, of firing artillery into civilian areas “with no apparent legitimate military objective.”
Fighters from HTS, a group formerly known as Nusra Front, have tortured and executed detainees, it added.
“What is clear from the military campaign is that pro-government forces and UN-designated terrorists flagrantly violated the laws of war and the rights of Syrian civilians,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN panel, said in a statement.
The report, covering Nov. 2019 until June 2020, was based on overflight data and witness testimony.
It examines 52 “emblematic attacks” in northwest Syria, including 47 attributed to the Russian-backed Syrian government.
Russian warplanes were solely implicated in a deadly March 5 strike on a poultry farm near Marat Misrin that sheltered displaced people and in three strikes next to a hospital damaged in the rebel-held town of Ariha on Jan. 29, the report said. Russia denies involvement in the latter attack, it said.
The region is home to a mix of Islamist militant and opposition groups, many of which fled other parts of Syria as President Bashar Assad, with Russian backing, seized back territory from them.
“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that pro-government forces committed the war crimes of deliberately attacking medical personnel and facilities by conducting airstrikes,” it said.
Karen Koning AbuZayd, a panel member, said: “Women, men and children that we interviewed faced the ghastly choice of being bombarded or fleeing deeper into HTS-controlled areas where there are rampant abuses of human rights...
“The acts by HTS members amount to war crimes.”