In an effort to increase pressure on the Government of Iran to comply with its international nuclear obligations, the United States, as required under U.S. law, has imposed sanctions on seven foreign companies for activities in support of Iran's energy sector, and on sixteen companies and individuals for proliferation activities –- most of them involving Iran.
The companies sanctioned for activities in the energy sector include the state-owned Venezuelan firm Petroleos de Venezuela, the Iranian-owned Petrochemical Commercial Company International, and five others.
At a press briefing, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that all seven companies "have engaged in activities related to the supply of refined petroleum products to Iran, including the direct supply of gasoline related products, as well as the provision of a product tanker to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), an entity that has been designated by the United States and the European Union for supporting Iran's proliferation activities.
"In its struggle to secure the resources it needs for its energy sector, Iran repeatedly has resorted to deceptive practices to evade sanctions. . . .Iran uses revenues from its energy sector to fund its nuclear program, as well as to mask procurement of dual –use items."
The sanctions impose varying penalties on the different companies, ranging from prohibitions on certain types of government assistance, to broader sanctions on property transactions with U.S. citizens, to shutting down the activities of the targeted firm. In every case, the intent of the sanctions is dissuasive, said Deputy Secretary Steinberg. "By imposing these sanctions, we're sending a clear message to companies around the world. Those who continue to irresponsibly support Iran's energy sector or help facilitate Iran's efforts to evade U.S. sanctions will face significant consequences."
The imposition of the new sanctions by the U.S. came shortly after the European Union expanded its own sanctions on Iran, targeting over one hundred additional individuals and entities associated with Iranian proliferation-related activities. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney welcomed the most recent EU measures, saying, "So long as Iran refuses to fulfill its international obligations, the international community will respond by holding Iran accountable, implement fully all UN Security Council resolutions, and aggressively counter Iranian proliferation activities."