Despite Coronavirus, U.S. Imposes Fresh Sanctions On Iran

The United States has blacklisted 15 individuals and five Iraq and Iran based companies on Thursday for supporting terrorist groups, its third round of sanctions on Iranian targets in the last two weeks even as Tehran battles the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department accused those targeted of of transferring lethal aid to Iran-backed militias in Iraq such as Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, all of which Washington deems foreign terrorist organizations and of supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm.

U.S. officials say they plan to keep sanctioning Iran to try to force it to curb its nuclear, missile and regional activities despite the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 2,234 people in Iran.

The Pentagon blamed Kataib Hezbollah for a March 11 rocket attack that killed one British and two U.S. personnel in Iraq.

Treasury accused those designated of “malign activities” including smuggling arms to Iraq and Yemen, selling Iranian oil to Syria, and backing Iraqi militias that attack U.S. forces.

The sanctions freeze any of their U.S.-held assets and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

The five targeted companies are Bahjat al Kawthar Company for Construction and Trading Ltd, also known as Kosar Company, Mada’in Novin Traders and Reconstruction Organization of the Holy Shrines in Iraq, both of which are based in Iran and Iraq; Al Khamael Maritime Services, which are both based in Iraq; and Middle East Saman Chemical Company, which is based in Iran.

The action also blacklists 15 individuals who are associated with the companies or officials of the Quds Force and Kataib Hezbollah.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the boycott of U.S. sanctions, though it was unclear if he was responding to the latest actions. “Does the US want a ‘forever pandemic’? Moral imperative to stop observing the bully’s sanctions,” he tweeted.

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