Iran General NewsTreasury freezes US assets of 2 Iranians

Treasury freezes US assets of 2 Iranians

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AP: The Bush administration took action Friday against two Iranians suspected of connections to Iran’s nuclear program. Associated Press

By JEANNINE AVERSA

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Bush administration took action Friday against two Iranians suspected of connections to Iran’s nuclear program. The Treasury Department action, part of efforts to tighten the financial vise on Tehran, is against Mohammad Qannadi and Ali Hajinia Leilabadi. Any bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to these two men found in the United States must be frozen. In addition, American are forbidden from doing business with them.

It marked the department’s latest move to use targeted financial measures against Iran, a country the United States accused of fostering terrorism and whose nuclear ambitions have drawn international rebuke.

“Even individuals who are active in Iran’s nuclear program are going to be held to account for their conduct and isolated by the international financial community,” said Stuart Levey, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Iran’s defiance of U.N. Security Council demands that it stop uranium enrichment and construction of a plutonium-producing reactor has led to two sets of economic sanctions against Iran. The stage has been set for a third round of U.N. Security Council penalties.

The Treasury Department alleged that Qannadi acts on behalf of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, or AEOI, which managed Iran’s overall nuclear program and reports directly to Iran’s president.

The government accused Leilabadi of acting on behalf of the Mesbah Energy Co., which is affiliated with the AEOI. Mesbah has been used to procure products for Iran’s heavy water project, the department alleged. Heavy water is essential for Iran’s heavy-water moderated reactor project, which would provide Iran with a potential source of plutonium suited for nuclear weapons, the department said.

The department said Iran’s president awarded both men government medals in 2006 for their contributions in the field of nuclear technology.

Separately, the department financially clamped down on three Libyans accused of being members of terrorist organizations al-Qaida and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Those three are: Nur al-Din al-Dibiski, Said Yusif Ali Abu Azizah and Ali Sulayman Mas’ud Abd al-Sayyid.

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