By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON Feb 6 The Obama administration
targeted a host of businesses across Europe and the Middle East
on Thursday for evading sanctions against Iran, a signal that
Washington aims to keep pressure on Tehran over its nuclear
The announcement marks the second time the United States has
designated sanctions evaders since reaching an interim deal with
Tehran in November.
Washington says it will continue to enforce existing
sanctions until there is a more comprehensive deal to prevent
Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
"We strongly believe that sustaining sanctions pressure will
be critical," a senior U.S. Treasury official told journalists
Under that agreement between Iran and six major powers,
including the United States, Tehran agreed to curb sensitive
nuclear activities in exchange for some limited sanctions
relief, including the transfer back to Iran of $4.2 billion in
oil funds held abroad.
Top administration officials insisted to lawmakers in Senate
testimony this week that Washington would continue to enforce
its existing sanctions on Iran.
Concerned about trade delegations, such as a visit to Tehran
this week by 100 business leaders from France's biggest firms,
some members of Congress want the sanctions regime expanded
despite the administration's objections.
Iran says that its nuclear program is peaceful and denies
Western and Israeli accusations that it is seeking the means and
expertise to assemble a nuclear warhead. It also maintains that
it is Israel's reputed atomic arsenal that threatens peace.
The actions taken on Thursday prohibit companies and
individuals from carrying out financial transactions under U.S.
BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS TARGETED
The U.S. Treasury said the targeted businesses and
individuals operated in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Georgia,
Afghanistan, Iran, Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates.
Some were helping Iran evade sanctions on oil exports as
well as its efforts to acquire prohibited nuclear and military
technologies, according to the Treasury. They included a Spanish
firm that the United States said was helping Iran's nuclear
The United States targeted a Turkish citizen for allegedly
helping Iran try to acquire and reverse engineer a
"weapons-capable" speedboat. Washington also accused German firm
Deutsche Forfait of helping "facilitate oil deals"
Other violators named were associated with Iran-sponsored
activities in Syria and Afghanistan, Treasury said in a
Some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for new sanctions laws to be
imposed on the Islamic state, but the Obama administration has
campaigned to hold off on new measures to give diplomatic
efforts to settle the nuclear dispute a chance.
Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, made a 45-minute speech on Thursday arguing
that the measure should move ahead with a sanctions bill that is
stalled in Congress.
"I believe in the lessons of history that tell us Iran
cannot be trusted to live up to its word without external
pressure," the New Jersey Democrat said on the Senate floor.
The Treasury last imposed Iran sanctions in December,
shortly after the interim deal was struck, blacklisting several
companies and individuals for supporting Iran's nuclear program.