WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday identified the National Iranian Tanker Company as a government-controlled entity and exposed dozens of Iranian front companies, ships and banks for helping Tehran evade Western sanctions aimed at stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The U.S. Treasury identified 58 National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessels and 27 of its affiliates and said this would help countries and companies comply with Western penalties against Iran and undermine Iran's attempts to use renamed vessels to evade sanctions.
"We will continue to ratchet up the pressure so long as Iran refuses to address the international community's well-founded concerns about its nuclear program," Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.
The United States mounted an international campaign aimed at depriving Iran of revenue to pressure it to agree to rein in its nuclear program, which Tehran maintains is solely for peaceful purposes.
The U.S. Treasury also identified Malaysian-based Noor Energy, Petro Suisse, Dubai-based Petro Energy and Hong Kong Intertrade as being controlled or acting on behalf of the Iranian government. The Treasury said they were acting as front companies for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and other blacklisted Iranian entities.
The European Union banned Iranian oil imports as well as providing insurance for vessels carrying Iranian oil from July 1. The U.S. sanctions have limited Iran's major trading partners from buying Iranian crude.
Lawmakers said Treasury's action was a move in the right direction but said much more had to be done. "We must continue to increase pressure on the Iranian regime until it verifiably abandons its nuclear weapons program," said Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who has been asking Tuvalu and Tanzania to stop reflagging Iranian oil tankers.
The National Iranian Tanker Company changed the names and flags of many of its vessels ahead of the EU ban.