Washington on Thursday placed sanctions on three companies from China, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates for selling refined oil products to Iran, AFP reported.
The Treasury placed sanctions on Zhuhai Zhenrong Co. of China, which it called the largest supplier of refined petroleum products to Iran, the report said. The sanctions came a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met Chinese leaders on how to boost pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear weapons program.
The other two companies to be hit with sanctions were Singapore trader Kuo Oil and the UAE’s FAL Oil Co., AFP reported.
Under the sanctions, all three companies are barred from receiving U.S. export licenses, trade support from the U.S. Export Import Bank, and loans over $10 million from U.S. financial institutions.
According to the Treasury, Zhuhai Zhenrong brokered the delivery of more than $500 million in gasoline to Iran between July 2010 and January 2011, far higher than thresholds the U.S. had set for allowable deals.
Kuo, the Treasury said, did $25 million in refined petroleum business with Iran in late 2010 and early 2011, while FAL provided $70 million in refined products to Iran in late 2010, also breaking the thresholds.
“The United States is working with international partners to maintain pressure on the Government of Iran to comply with its international nuclear obligations,” the Treasury was quoted as having said.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran said it was ready to discuss allegations that it was involved in secret nuclear weapons work.
The announcement comes after years in which Iran blocked the IAEA’s attempts to follow up on U.S. and other intelligence alleging covert Iranian work on nuclear arms for more than three years. The Islamic Republic dismissed the charges as baseless and insisted its nuclear activities were peaceful and under IAEA purview.
A senior UN nuclear agency team will visit Tehran on January 28 following Iran’s announcement.
In November, the IAEA released a report saying it had credible intelligence Iran is seeking nuclear weapons technology.