New measures target Iranian oil and petrochemical sales as the US says it is committed to cutting Iran’s energy exports.
Washington, D.C. – The United States has imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, targeting the country’s oil and petrochemical sales, while diplomacy between Washington and Tehran continues to stagnate.
The measures announced Thursday come weeks after US media reports said Washington and Tehran were working on a prisoner exchange deal.
“The United States is determined to significantly reduce Iran’s energy exports and will impose sanctions on those who facilitate Iran’s oil and petrochemical trade,” the State Department said.
The sanctions hit one Vietnam-based company, two China-based companies, two others in Iran and one in the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of being involved “in the transportation or sale” of Iranian oil and petrochemicals.
The measures block the assets of the US entities and restrict other companies from doing business with them.
“These designations underline our continued efforts to enforce our sanctions against Iran,” the State Department said. “We will not hesitate to take action against those who try to circumvent our sanctions.”
Iran has faced a massive amount of US sanctions since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump struck a multilateral nuclear deal in which Iran scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against its economy.
US President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the 2015 agreement was originally signed, has pledged to revive the pact. But numerous rounds of indirect talks over the past two years have failed to reinstate the nuclear deal.
While Washington often reiterates that it will never allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, US officials recently said they are no longer focused on the nuclear talks as they address other issues related to Tehran, which denies seeking to nuclear weapons.
Relations between the US and Iran have been further complicated by a crackdown on anti-government protests in Iran and Washington’s allegations that Tehran supplied Russia with drones that Moscow used against Ukraine.
“We want to see a lasting, lasting solution to the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday.
“We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to achieve that, but every time we’ve been asked, we’ve made it very clear that we will use all possible means to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, Iran has accused the US of showing “bad faith” in talks to negotiate a prisoner exchange.
But Washington says it will do everything possible to secure the release of three of its citizens imprisoned in Iran.
“Iran falsely detains citizens of the US and other countries around the world as an unforgivable tactic to gain political influence, so for them to claim that the United States has somehow shown ‘bad faith’ in pursuing the release of our citizens is beyond the pale,” a State Department spokesman told Al Jazeera last month.