US hits Iran with fresh sanctions, targets Chinese firms as relationship sours further

US hits Iran with fresh sanctions, targets Chinese firms as relationship sours further
The United States have slapped Iran with fresh sanctions as the country ramps up its nuclear program.
2 min read
The sanctions come as Trump prepares to leave office [Getty]

The United States has hit Iran with fresh sanctions by blacklisting several companies which supply the country's steel industry.

Chinese-based company Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology Co Ltd. (KFCC) was among firms named in a statement released by the US Treasuring Department.

Kaifeng Pingmei is a supplier to 12 Iranian steel and metals makers, and provided thousands of metric tonnes of materials to Iranian steel companies between December 2019 and June 2020.

The Pasargad Steel Complex and the Gilan Steel Complex Co are among a dozen of Iranian companies blacklisted, both of which were targeted under Executive Order 13871 for operating in the Iranian steel sector.

"The Trump Administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime as it continues to sponsor terrorist groups, support oppressive regimes, and seek weapons of mass destruction," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The others are: Iran-based Middle East Mines and Mineral Industries Development Holding Co (MIDHCO), Khazar Steel Co, Vian Steel Complex, South Rouhina Steel Complex, Yazd Industrial Constructional Steel Rolling Mill, West Alborz Steel Complex, Esfarayen Industrial Complex, Bonab Steel Industry Complex, Sirjan Iranian Steel and Zarand Iranian Steel Co.

Tensions rise

The latest sanctions come as US President Donald Trump prepares to leave office, and as tensions rise with Iran after it increased its uranium enrichment to 20 per cent, far higher than the percentage point agreed in the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by Barack Obama.

China on Tuesday urged that signatories of the Iran nuclear deal should urge the US to return to the agreement, a day after Iran began enriching uranium to levels unseen since the 2015 deal.

"The Iranian nuclear issue is currently at a critical juncture, and the situation is very complex," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

"China urges all parties to maintain calmness and restraint, comply with the consensus on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), avoid actions that would increase tensions, and leave room for diplomatic efforts and for the situation to turn around."

As well as rejoining the deal, the US should "lift all relevant sanctions, so as to create conditions for the agreement to get back on track," Hua added.

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