US announces sanctions on Iranian transport giants

US announces sanctions on Iranian transport giants
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared sanctions against companies which support Iranian arms smuggling operations, while pledging his support for a 'new political order' in Lebanon.
3 min read
11 December, 2019
US Secretary Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced a fresh round of sanctions on Iran’s largest shipping company and an airline, for their alleged role in weapons smuggling.

The sanctions target the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping, as well as three agents for Mahan Air.

Shipping networks owned by Iranian businessman Abdolhossein Khedri were also added to the list, including Khedri Jahan Darya Shipping AG.

At the State Department conference, Pompeo told reporters that the companies ran programs that "siphoned" funds away from the Iranian people and served to "augment the regime’s campaign of terror and intimidation at home and throughout the world".

"As long as its malign behaviour continues, so will our campaign of maximum pressure," Pompeo said.

While the shipping companies were designated for terrorism and of support for terrorism, Mahan's air agents were listed in a designation that targets entities linked to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, including missiles.

The weapons smuggling network is alleged to have carried out operations on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), sending arms from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen.  

Also at the conference, Pompeo was pressed by a reporter on the question of international aid to support Lebanon, currently gripped by economic crisis following months of protests and instabillity.

His response was that the US was ready to assist the Lebanese people "getting their economy right and getting their government right" while emphasising that the responsibility for achieving "new political order" lay with the Lebanese people.

The UN-created International Support Group will meet to discuss in Paris on Wednesday in Paris.

The US, who will be present, has escalated sanctions of Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had dominated the national unity government led by Saad Hariri.

Read more: France, UN host international meeting in aid for Lebanon

In a related event on Wednesday, the US Treasury also targeted sales offices in Hong Kong and Dubai belonging to Iran's Mahan Air for reportedly assisting the regime in flying fighters and supplies to war-ravaged Syria in support of Bashar Al-Assad's regime.

The sanctions announced at the press conference on Friday will subject foreign firms and governments engaged in transactions with the targeted entities to sanctions, including a freeze on assets they may have in US jurisdictions

They will come into force 180 days from now. The sanctions on Mahan, however, which the US has previously sanctioned, will take immediate effect.

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