The Obama administration yesterday targeted more than two dozen companies and individuals for evading international sanctions against Iran or supporting its nuclear programme, a signal that the United States (US) will continue to enforce existing sanctions while pursuing a diplomatic resolution with Tehran.
The Treasury and State departments announced that the US was freezing assets and banning transactions of entities and individuals they claim are involved in the proliferation of material used for making weapons of mass destruction or are attempting to evade sanctions.
"The conduct of these entities and individuals demonstrates Iran's extensive efforts to conceal its evasive activities by using front companies in foreign countries to deceive foreign suppliers to support its illicit proliferation and evasion activities," the departments said in a joint statement.
The US and five other world powers recently signed a first-step agreement with Iran that is designed to prevent it from making progress towards the possible development of nuclear weapons, something Iran insists it is not trying to do.
Some US lawmakers want to stiffen economic sanctions against Iran, but the administration is asking Congress to give diplomats a chance to reach a comprehensive agreement with Tehran.
Yesterday's announcement is a way for the administration to signal that it is serious about enforcing sanctions, despite the agreement reached with Iran last month that provides it $6 billion to $7 billion in relief from US economic penalties in exchange for a series of nuclear concessions.