Iran General NewsU.S. penalizes companies tied to Iran Corps

U.S. penalizes companies tied to Iran Corps

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ImageNew York Times: The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Wednesday on a commander and four companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, underscoring the Obama administration’s determination to single out the elite corps as a way to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The New York Times

By MARK LANDLER

ImageWASHINGTON — The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Wednesday on a commander and four companies linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, underscoring the Obama administration’s determination to single out the elite corps as a way to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

The Treasury said it froze the assets of four affiliates of a sprawling construction conglomerate owned by the Revolutionary Guards, as well as those of Gen. Rostam Qasemi, who oversees the companies, because they are accused of being involved in Iran’s effort to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The designations, which come two and a half years after the United States first imposed sanctions on the corps, illustrate the scope and limitations of the president’s pressure campaign.

As the administration marshals support for new United Nations sanctions against Iran, it plans to publicly single out an array of companies, banks and entities controlled by the Revolutionary Guards to highlight the extent to which the organization controls the Iranian economy.

But the Guards have found ways to circumvent existing sanctions by setting up subsidiaries and front companies that allow the organization to continue to deal with banks, shipping companies and suppliers outside Iran. The latest measures are meant to close those loopholes.

In this case, the conglomerate, Khatam al-Anbiya, has been under Treasury sanctions since 2007. A senior administration official said the company had dug a network of underground tunnels that house elements of Iran’s nuclear program.

The new sanctions are aimed at four entities that handle mining and engineering projects on behalf of Khatam al-Anbiya, including some with links to the nuclear program. They are Fater Engineering Institute, Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, Makin Institute and Rahab Institute.

“As the I.R.G.C. consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranian economy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbiya and its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world,” said the under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, Stuart A. Levey.

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