ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States Department of Treasury imposed fresh sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, targeting the country’s steel production industry, it said in a press release.
“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a China-based supplier of graphite electrodes, a key element in steel production, as well as twelve Iranian producers of steel and other metals products, and three foreign-based sales agents of a major Iranian metals and mining holding company,” the department said on Tuesday.
“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,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
The sanctions, the latest in a wave imposed by the White House before president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration later this month, follow several provocative moves from Iran this week.
Iran on Monday began enriching uranium up to 20 percent at an underground facility, a short technical step from weapons-grade levels.
The announcement came at the same time Western officials said they feared the South-Korean flagged vessel MT Hankuk Chemi had been seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The tanker, travelling to the United Arab Emirates, altered course into Iranian waters on Monday. On Tuesday, the vessel’s owner said it had been stormed by IRGC troops.
Washington began imposing new sanctions on Tehran following the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in 2018. Tensions between the US and the Islamic Republic have been on the rise ever since, coming to a head with the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport in January 2020.
The US imposed sanctions on China and UAE-based companies for facilitating exports for a blacklisted Iranian petrochemical company mid-December.
The US had previously imposed sanctions on Iran’s military, communications, and energy sectors in October and November.