U.S. sanctions Russia's state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has imposed sanctions on Russian and Chinese companies, including Russian state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, for violating a U.S. law restricting weapons trade with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The U.S. State Department published a notice of the sanctions in the Federal Register on Wednesday. They were later condemned by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Moscow will take countermeasures in response to new U.S. sanctions, Interfax reported late on Wednesday, citing a commentary on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

The State Department’s notice did not specify how each company had run afoul of the United States’ Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, but the act prohibits the trade with those three countries of goods, services, or technology used to make weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missiles.

Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a 4 1/2-year-old civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions, including by supplying him with military gear.

Iran and North Korea are under United Nations arms embargoes.

The sanctions announced on Wednesday prohibit the U.S. government from procuring goods or services from the listed entities, as well as selling them defense-related goods and services. Additionally, no new licenses will be granted to export certain controlled goods to the listed entities, and any existing such licenses will be suspended.

Many of the entities targeted on Wednesday already faced multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions.

One of the individuals listed was Chinese businessman Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee. He has already been sanctioned for allegedly supplying Iran’s ballistic missile program in violation of an embargo. He denied the allegations in a 2013 interview with Reuters.

The companies sanctioned also included China’s BST Technology and Trade Co, which had previously been sanctioned by the United States in 2013, the Russian Aircraft Corp, and two North Korean firms. The Sudanese Armed Forces were also listed in the notice, as well as the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, called the Qods Force, and its commander, Qassem Soleimani.

Reporting by Jason Lange and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Alan Crosby