International network selling Iranian oil slapped with US sanctions

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

A picture taken March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian tanker docking at the platform of the oil facility on Kharg Island. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

A picture taken March 12, 2017, shows an Iranian tanker docking at the platform of the oil facility on Kharg Island. [Atta Kenare/AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Wednesday (July 6) imposed sanctions on more than a dozen petroleum and petrochemical producers, transporters and front companies for violating oil sanctions on Tehran.

The 15 designated individuals and entities used a web of Gulf-based front companies to facilitate the illicit sale and shipment of Iranian petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemical products to East Asia.

Sanctions were announced by the US Treasury and the US State Department.

The US State Department sanctioned Vietnam-based Truong Phat Loc Shipping Trading JSC and Singapore-based Everwin Ship Management Pte. Ltd. for shipping and transporting petroleum products from Iran.

It also designated three Iran-based entities -- Zagros Tarabaran-E Arya, Persian Gulf Star Oil Co., and East Ocean Rashin Shipping Co. Ltd. -- that have engaged in the sale and shipment of Iranian petroleum products.

The US Treasury meanwhile blacklisted eight entities and two individuals: UAE-based Iranian nationals Morteza Rajabieslami and Mahdieh Sanchuli.

The entities include Iran-based Jam Petrochemical Co., Edgar Commercial Solutions FZE, Hong Kong-based front company Lustro Industry Ltd. and Oligei International Trading Co. Ltd.

They also include UAE-based front companies Ali Almutawa Petroleum and Petrochemical Trading LLC, Petrokick LLC, Petrogat FZE and Emerald Global FZE.

All support the involvement of Naftiran Intertrade Co., Iran Petrochemical Co., Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co., Triliance and Behran Oil in the sale of Iranian petroleum and petroleum products abroad.

Deadlock in negotiations

The latest sanctions on Iran's oil industry come amid a deadlock in negotiations on restoring a 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"While the United States is committed to achieving an agreement with Iran that seeks a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, we will continue to use all our authorities to enforce sanctions," the Treasury said.

"Absent a commitment from Iran to return to the JCPOA, an outcome we continue to pursue, we will keep using our authorities to target Iran's exports of energy products," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter.

"The United States has been sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," he said in a separate statement.

"It is Iran that has, to-date, failed to demonstrate a similar commitment to that path," he said.

The United States on June 16 sanctioned three Iranian petrochemical producers for evading US sanctions, along with front companies in China and the UAE.

Kerman-based political analyst Faramarz Irani told Al-Mashareq the US sanctions have squashed the high profits intermediaries have made by evading sanctions.

These intermediaries are regime-affiliated individuals, known as "sanctions profiteers", he said, and have made a business out of circumventing sanctions.

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