US targets bank, petro firms in new Iran sanctions

June 17th, 2010 - 9:53 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 17 (IANS) The United States has announced new sanctions against Iran targeted at the country’s nuclear and missile programmes, targeting another of its state-controlled banks, more than 20 companies and its Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Announcing the measures at the White House Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said they “are designed to deter other governments and foreign financial institutions from dealing with these entities and thereby supporting Iran’s illicit activities.”

“In the coming weeks, we will continue to increase the financial pressure on Iran,” he said. “We will continue to target Iran’s support for terrorist organizations. We will continue to focus on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. We will continue to expose Iran’s efforts to evade international sanctions.”

The actions are the first set of the measures to implement the recent UN Security Council and highlight “Iran’s use of its financial sector, shipping industry and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to carry out and mask its proliferation activities, the US Treasury Department said.

Geithner said penalties of this kind have been effective in the past. He said they have made a major difference in limiting Iran’s ability to use the global financial system to support allegedly illicit activities.

“When major financial institutions and companies around the world discover they are actually working with Iranian companies that support Iran’s nuclear or missile programmes, they realise it is not worth the risk,” he said. “They cut off their business.”

Some of the new sanctions are aimed at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused of turning Iran into a military dictatorship.

Stuart Levey, the Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told reporters the Revolutionary Guard is stealing economic opportunities from the Iranian people.

“We think that by focusing attention on the Revolutionary Guard, as we did at the United Nations, and as we have both unilaterally and with our partners around the world, that we are sending exactly the right message,” said Stuart Levey. “We are going after the people who are oppressing the people of Iran, oppressing them politically and economically.”

Iran’s Post Bank becomes the 16th Iranian banking institution on the sanctions list. Five front companies and more than 90 ship names are listed for being used by Iran’s maritime carrier (IRISL) to try to evade sanctions.

New penalties are being directed toward 22 petroleum, energy and insurance companies owned or controlled by the Iranian government -17 of them operating outside Iran.

The list also includes several individuals and entities believed to be involved in the Revolutionary Guard or Iran’s nuclear or missile programmes.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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