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US slaps more sanctions on Iran banks, firms and people Major powers working to reach comprehensive nuke deal

 WASHINGTON, Aug 29, (Agencies): The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on more than 25 people and companies it accused of violating sanctions against Iran, including shipping firms, airlines, and six Iranian banks. The US move comes as the United States and five other global powers are working with Iran to strike a comprehensive agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear activities in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.

The US Treasury Department said it was targeting the people and firms, including Iran’s Asia Bank, Meraj Air and Lissom Marine Services LLC, a shipping firm, for a range of violations, including helping Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, evading prior sanctions, or supporting terrorism. In a parallel move, the US Department of State imposed sanctions on four firms it said were helping Iran’s nuclear program, a UAE-based firm working with Iran’s shipping sector, Goldentex FZE, and an Italian firm, Dettin SpA, it said was working with Iran’s petrochemical industry.
 
“Our actions today and since the start of the (nuclear) talks are consistent with our commitments under the Joint Plan of Action, which provided limited relief of certain sanctions in exchange for Iranian steps that halted its nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a statement.
 
The United States and some of its allies suspect Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Iran denies this, saying that its program is solely for peaceful purposes. Six major powers and Iran failed to meet a July 20 deadline to negotiate the comprehensive nuclear deal. The six, a group comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States known as the P5+1, have agreed to extend the deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement until Nov 24. The next talks are expected in mid-September.
 
Other companies targeted include Turkey-based Pioneer Logistics and Thailand-based Asian Aviation Logistics, which Treasury said helped the sanctioned Iranian airline Mahan Air evade restrictions on getting aircraft material. The White House’s National Security Council said that despite the additional measures, the US remained committed to working with its partners in seeking an international deal with Tehran over its controversial pursuit of atomic power. “Just as we announced these measures and continue to enforce pre-existing sanctions on Iran, the United States remains committed to working with our P5+1 partners toward a long-term, comprehensive solution that provides confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful,” said Caitlin Hayden, NSC spokeswoman.
 
The P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States, plus Russia — last month extended to Nov 24 an interim agreement under which Iran suspended part of its nuclear activities in return for a partial lifting of international sanctions, to allow more time to negotiate a final accord. Tehran denies that it wants to make nuclear weapons and the sides remain split on how much uranium enrichment Iran should be allowed to carry out.
 
The Treasury’s new sanctions targets include shipping and oil companies, banks and an airline. “Treasury’s action against over 25 entities and individuals — who are involved in expanding Iran’s proliferation program, supporting terrorism in the region, and helping Iran evade US and international sanctions — reflects our continuing determination to take action against anyone, anywhere, who violates our sanctions,” said David Cohen, the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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