SEP 14, 2018: The U.S. Treasury announced on Friday that it has imposed sanctions on a Thailand-based aviation company, punishing it for its alleged ties with an already designated Iranian airline.
My Aviation Company was slapped sanctions for “acting for or on behalf of Mahan Air, an Iranian airline previously designated for supporting Iran’s terrorism activities,” said the Treasury in a statement.
The latest move by the department will freeze all the assets the designated entity may hold in the United States and generally prohibit U.S. individuals from doing business with it.
Washington has intensified its sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals after President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal in May, a move that has been criticized widely by the international community.
The first unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector, gold trade, and other industries were re-imposed in early August, with further sanctions on oil and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran expected in November.
As November nears, the Trump administration said it is prepared to take “strongest action” against countries and entities who are found not complying with the Iranian sanctions, including reducing to zero the purchase of crude oil from Iran, a top Trump Administration official told lawmakers.
“We are prepared to take the strongest actions possible on people who will not assist us in complying with this new range of sanctions that we are putting back into place,” Indian-American Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing Thursday.
Responding to a question from Congressman Eliot Engel, Singh said the Trump Administration has been talking to all its allies and partners and trying to convince them to fully implement the new Iranian sanctions which the US has imposed following its withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.
The US has told India and other countries (China, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Europe) to cut oil imports from Iran to “zero” by November 4 or face sanctions, making it clear that there would be no waivers to anyone.
The US has been lobbying oil importers such as India, China and Japan to end crude purchases from Iran, as Trump’s administration ratchets up the pressure on the Islamic republic.
But Iran is pinning its hopes on Asian oil consumers as it battles to protect crude exports and shield its economy from the tough US sanctions.
Oil is the main source of Iran’s hard currency inflows and China, India, Japan and South Korea account for almost 65 per cent of the 2.7m barrels a day Iran exported in May, according to Kpler, the tracking company.
“If any of the major buyers of Iranian crude, which is China, India, Japan, South Korea, an Europe, if they refuse to sharply cut their purchases, are we really prepared to cut their banks off from the global banking system, which is the penalty under the US sanctions? Are we really prepared for that?” Engel asked.
“In response, we are prepared to take the most serious actions possible on Iran. We need to demonstrate to the Iranian regime that we will not tolerate its development of a nuclear program for illicit purposes,” Singh said.
The flawed Iran nuclear deal was determined not to be the right vehicle to address the range of Iran’s malign behavior, she said.
“We are having conversations with our allies, and our goal is to get purchase of Iranian crude oil down to zero by November 5. That’s a critical goal for us,” Singh said in response to question from Congressman Engel.
“We are talking with all of our allies, including the countries that you mentioned, helping them to understand that the only way that we can achieve this global goal of Iran’s nuclear program not commencing is through partnership and cooperation with our allies as you have indicated,” she said.
“China is Iran’s top, top oil purchaser. Will they get to zero by November?” Engel followed up with another question.
“We are working will all countries, including China, to get them to zero. We’ve made it clear that unless we act as a global community, Iran’s behavior is not going to change,” Singh said.
The Iran nuclear deal “was not going to change Iran’s behavior. We have a new strategy, a new list of behaviors that we are going to insist that they take, and we need cooperation from the global community in order to achieve this goal,” she said.
Teams from the State Department and Treasury Department have visited over 30 countries so far and talked through with them US’ withdrawal from the Iran deal, Singh said.
“We’re trying to help them understand what it means for them. We are trying to engage in all kinds of diplomatic conversations to make sure that our allies don’t feel like we are going it alone. We are explaining to them that we need to work as a global community to address Iran’s r ..
A UN expert in late August called the sanctions re-imposed on Iran as “unjust and harmful,” saying that the sanctions are driving millions of people into poverty and making imported goods unaffordable.