WASHINGTON Dec 13 The United States stepped up
pressure on Iran on Thursday over its nuclear program, imposing
sanctions on seven companies and five individuals, including
Iran's atomic energy chief.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the action would bar those
companies and individuals from doing business with U.S. firms or
citizens, and freeze any assets they have in the United States.
Among those sanctioned is Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization and a survivor of an
assassination attempt that Iranian officials have blamed on
Israel. At least four scientists associated with Iran's nuclear
program have been killed since 2010; Abbasi-Davani was wounded.
Iran has accused Israel and the United States of plotting
the killings to set back its nuclear program. Washington has
denied any U.S. role and Israel has declined to comment.
Foreign banks that handle transactions for the companies and
individuals listed by the Treasury could also lose their access
to the U.S. banking system under the U.S. sanctions regime.
"The U.S. will target those involved in Iran's illicit
enrichment activities. The entire world has made it clear that
these activities are unacceptable," Treasury Undersecretary
David Cohen said in a statement.
The United States has said Tehran's nuclear program is aimed
at acquiring atomic weapons, a charge Iran has repeatedly
The Treasury said the newly announced sanctions were aimed
at targeting the international procurement operations of the
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Iran Centrifuge
Technology Company and Iran's uranium enrichment program.
Besides Abbasi-Davani, the individuals targeted by the
sanctions were Seyed Jaber Safdari, Morteza Ahmadali Behzad,
Amir Hossein Rahimyar and Mohammad Reza Rezvanianzadeh.
The companies placed under sanctions were Pouya Control,
Iran Pooya, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Faratech, Neda
Industrial Group, Tarh O Palayesh and Towlid Abzar Boreshi Iran.