AP: Iran on Friday condemned U.S. sanctions on the country's largest shipping line as "illegal and unjustifiable," insisting the company never engaged in any illicit activities such as the transfer of equipment for Tehran's missile and nuclear programs.
The Associated Press
By EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran on Friday condemned U.S. sanctions on the country's largest shipping line as "illegal and unjustifiable," insisting the company never engaged in any illicit activities such as the transfer of equipment for Tehran's missile and nuclear programs.
In the Iranian government's first reaction to the sanctions, its U.N. mission accused the United States of targeting "the welfare of the Iranian nation" and exerting "undue pressure on thousands of shareholders" of the shipping company with baseless allegations.
The U.S. on Wednesday ordered the freezing of any U.S. bank accounts or other financial assets belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, known as IRISL, and 18 related companies. Americans were also barred from doing business with the companies, and U.S. officials said they would discourage international firms from doing business with them.
Iran's U.N. mission said in a statement that the Iranian government reserved the right "to seek compensation for the damages that may be incurred to its citizens as a result of such unfounded accusations and unlawful unilateral measures."
Washington alleges the shipping company facilitated movement of military-related cargo destined for an Iranian agency that controls ballistic missile research, development and production. The U.S. also alleges the company falsified documents to conceal its cargo.
Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that "IRISL's actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile program."
The Iranian statement accused the U.S. of failing "to provide any evidence with regard to the so-called `proliferation concerns' in Iran, nor has it presented any substantiation to its allegations against IRISL."
The U.S. sanctions are the latest effort to put financial pressure on Iran, which the United States accuses of bankrolling terrorism and seeking to produce a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful and designed to produce electricity for civilian use.
Washington previously imposed sanctions on several state-run Iranian banks and businesses along with elements of its Defense Ministry and Revolutionary Guards Corps. The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment in its nuclear program.