U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry

Fri May 31, 2013 4:54pm EDT
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By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States blacklisted on Friday eight companies in Iran's petrochemical industry, sending a warning to the Islamic Republic's global customers as Washington strives to cut off funds to the country's nuclear program.

Petrochemical companies owned or controlled by the Iranian government that are on the Treasury Department list include Bandar Imam Petrochemical Co, Bou Ali Sina Petrochemical Co and Mobin Petrochemical Co.

This was the first time Washington sanctioned the petrochemical industry, which an administration official said was the largest source of foreign earnings for Iran's nuclear program after oil sales.

"Companies should end immediately their purchases of Iranian petrochemical products," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on a call with reporters.

He said U.S. officials over the last several months had been engaged in a "strong diplomatic campaign" with governments and companies around the world to make clear that sanctions could be imposed on purchases of Iran's petrochemicals.

In a related action, the U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on Niksima Food and Beverage JLT, a frozen yogurt company based in the UAE, for "knowingly engaging" in a transaction for the purchase of petrochemical products from Iran. It also sanctioned Jam, an Iranian manufacturer and seller of petrochemicals. The sanctions effectively cut them off from the U.S. financial system.

Niksima did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Western powers believe Iran is trying to develop the ability to make nuclear weapons. Tehran has said the program is purely for generating power and for medical devices.   Continued...

The Nouri petrochemical plant is seen in Assalouyeh, 1,000 km (621 miles) south of Tehran, January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Caren Firouz