Iran sanctions
Iran sanctions iStock

The Trump administration on Thursday imposed new sanctions against Iran, blacklisting Iranian and Chinese energy companies and announcing forfeiture actions against two shipments of Iranian missiles recently seized by the US Navy, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The Treasury and State Department sanctions against 11 companies and five individuals involved allegations they were helping Iran trade its petroleum products, a key source of funding for the regime, in conjunction with a previously sanctioned firm called Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd.

The Treasury said Triliance and several of the newly blacklisted Iranian firms, including one called Morvarid Petrochemical, used Chinese companies such as Binrin Limited and Elfo Energy Holding Limited to help manage the transactions and transfer revenues for Tehran.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Justice Department’s forfeiture actions involved two seizures of missiles early this year and late in 2019, arms the US said were from the terror-designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps destined for Tehran-backed Yemen militants.

Those seizures and others by coalition partners followed the major missile and drone attack against critical energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia blamed in part on Yemeni Houthis and warnings of further action.

Iran and the Houthis say they were not responsible for the attacks and were neither the source nor intended recipient of the shipments.

The Justice Department also announced the sale of 1.1 million barrels of Iranian refined petroleum products bound for Venezuela that were seized earlier this year by the US. A senior Justice Department official said the cargoes were valued at an estimated $40 million, much of which would be transferred to the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund.

The Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran since 2018, when it withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but has ramped up the sanctions in recent weeks, when its efforts to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran did not succeed.

On Monday, the US slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's oil sector including over sales to Syria and Venezuela.

Under the new measures, the administration designated the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran's petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company under a counterterrorism authority.

Earlier this month, the United States slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's financial sector, targeting 18 Iranian banks in an effort to further shut Iran out of the global banking system.