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15 May, 2018 14:49

US imposes new sanctions on Iranian individuals and bank – treasury department

US imposes new sanctions on Iranian individuals and bank – treasury department

The US has imposed fresh sanctions on an Iranian bank and individuals, the department of the treasury has announced.

In a release on its website, the department listed four people added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control's Specially Designated Nationals List. Those individuals are Aras Habib Kareem, the chairman of Al Bilad Islamic Bank for Investment and Finance which was also sanctioned; Valiollah Seif, an economist and the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Ali Tarzali, its assistant director; and Muhammad Qasir, a Hezbollah official.

The additional sanctions come after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last week, promising the highest level of sanctions. The move has been slammed by Tehran and other signatories of the landmark agreement, which was signed under the Barack Obama administration.

The statement from the US Treasury Department accuses the newly sanctioned individuals of moving "millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah." They have been designated as "specially designated global terrorists."

According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Seif, Iran's most senior banking official, conspired "with the IRGC-QF to facilitate funding of terror groups like Hezballah."

The department's release stated that the sanctions against Seif and Tarzali do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran itself. However, the US will reinstate sanctions extending to certain transactions within the ban, including the "purchase or acquisition of US dollars banknotes by the government of Iran."

“The United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system. The global community must remain vigilant against Iran’s deceptive efforts to provide financial support to its terrorist proxies,” Mnuchin said.

Existing US sanctions prevent American companies from doing business with Iran, and "secondary sanctions" could extend further to European and global companies. Speaking to CNN on Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said "it's possible" that Washington will slap sanctions on European businesses. "I think the Europeans will see that's in their interest ultimately to go along with this," he said.

Paris has spoken out against blindly obeying Washington's orders when it comes to trading with Iran. On Tuesday, an adviser to President Emmanuel Macron said that the threat of European companies doing business with Iran is an "important test of sovereignty" and will require a firm response, Reuters reported.

France's economy minister, Bruno le Maire, previously referred to Washington as the "global economic policeman," urging Europe to continue trading with Iran and to stop acting like "US vassals."

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has stated that the US must be replaced as leader on the world stage, accusing it of having "lost vigor." This came after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe needed to take matters into its own hands.

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