The U.S. has imposed sanctions on thirteen foreign companies for selling technology to Iran that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction, missile systems, or advanced conventional weapons. Five of the companies are located in China. Two each are in Russia and Macedonia. And the others are in Belarus, Taiwan, North Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.
Deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says the sanctions were imposed under a U.S. law known as the Iran Nonproliferation Act:
“There was credible information indicating that these companies had transferred to Iran. . .items with the potential of making a material contribution to proscribed programs.”
The sanctions prohibit the companies from receiving contracts for any goods, services, or technology from any agency of the U.S. government. They are also blocked from participating in any U.S. government aid program and barred from buying high-technology equipment from the U.S. The sanctions will be in effect for two years.
State Department deputy spokesman Ereli pointed out that companies, not governments, are the targets of the sanctions. But he says the activities of these companies are issues that the U.S. is raising with governments:
“It is, to put it simply, an important subject of ongoing discussion with the host countries, and it’s something that we really engage on very, very consistently.”
John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, says the U.S. is serious about using sanctions to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. “Our perspective on sanctions is clear and simple,” he says. “Companies around the world have a choice: trade in [weapons of mass destruction] materials, or trade with the United States, but not both. Where national controls fail, and when companies make the wrong choice, there will be consequences.”