June 25, 2020 / 2:35 PM / 12 days ago

U.S. imposes sanctions on companies operating in Iran's metals sector

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday blacklisted four companies in Iran’s metals sector, as well as one German and three Emirati subsidiaries of Iran’s largest steelmaker that Washington said generate millions of dollars for Tehran’s metals industry.

FILE PHOTO: A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

The Treasury Department said in a statement that the sales agents together generated tens of millions of dollars annually from the foreign sale of Mobarakeh Steel Company products, contributing to billions of dollars generated overall by Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors.

“The Iranian regime continues to use profits from metals manufacturers and foreign sales agents to fund destabilizing behavior around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The sanctions are the latest U.S. effort to slash Iranian revenues since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, exacerbating U.S.-Iranian tensions.

Thursday’s action targeted Tara Steel Trading GmbH, a Germany-based subsidiary of Mobarakeh Steel Co; United Arab Emirates-based sales agents Pacific Steel FZE, Better Future General Trading Co LLC and Tuka Metal Trading DMCC, all majority-owned by Mobarakeh Steel Co; and Iran-based Metil Steel, also majority-owned by the company.

Mobarakeh Steel Co, previously blacklisted by Washington, accounts for 1% of Iran’s gross domestic product, the Treasury said.

The Treasury also blacklisted Iran-based aluminum, steel and iron producers South Aluminum Company, Sirjan Jahan Steel Complex and Iran Central Iron Ore Company.

Also designated was Global Industrial and Engineering Supply Ltd, which the Treasury said had addresses in China and Hong Kong and had in 2019 knowingly transferred graphite to a blacklisted Iranian entity.

The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets held by the companies and generally prohibit Americans from dealing with them.

It did not appear Thursday’s actions were related to companies cited in a Reuters report on Wednesday disclosing Iran’s production of aluminum powder for use in missiles.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Arshad Mohammed; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown

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