Iran deal implemented, new sanctions imposed

New sanctions target 11 indi­viduals and entities Obama ad­ministration claims were involved in procurement on behalf of Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

A missile inside an underground missile base for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Aerospace Force at an undisclosed location.

2016/01/22 Issue: 40 Page: 16

The Arab Weekly
Mark Habeeb

Washington - In a rare Sunday morning tel­evised address, US President Barack Obama on January 17th hailed the progress his admin­istration made in reducing tensions with Iran. The day be­fore, the International Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) declared that Iran had taken the required steps under the deal negotiated with world powers over its nuclear pro­gramme. As a result, a multitude of economic sanctions the interna­tional community had imposed on Iran were lifted.

Obama also announced the re­lease of five Americans who, he said, were “unjustly” held in Iran. In exchange, Washington released six Iranian-Americans and one Iranian national being held and awaiting trial in the United States.

Finally, the president announced that the two countries had reached an agreement to settle a major claim Iran had against the United States involving money that the late shah’s government paid the United States for weapons that were never deliv­ered because the Islamic revolution intervened. The United States is to repay the funds, with interest.

“This is a good day,” Obama said when he stepped up to the podium to begin his address touting these diplomatic accomplishments.

But he left one additional bit of news for the end of his 15-minute speech: The United States will be imposing new sanctions on Iran in response to a ballistic missile test the Islamic Republic conducted in October that breached a UN resolu­tion prohibiting it from developing missiles that could potentially de­liver nuclear warheads.

The new sanctions target 11 indi­viduals and entities the Obama ad­ministration claims were involved in procurement on behalf of Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Many in Washington had expected the sanctions to be imposed but admin­istration sources say that they were delayed to ensure that the nuclear agreement and prisoner exchange took place.

One of the sanctioned entities is UAE-based Mabrooka Trading Com­pany. According to the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) — the government office that imposes and monitors compliance with economic sanc­tions — named the company be­cause Mabrooka “and its China- and UAE-based network that have been involved in procuring goods for Iran’s ballistic missile programme”. According to OFAC, “This network obfuscated the end user of sensitive goods for missile proliferation by us­ing front companies in third coun­tries to deceive foreign suppliers.”

Another UAE-based company, Candid General Trading, as well as a Hong Kong-based firm, Anhui Land Group, also were sanctioned. Both were suppliers to Mabrooka Trading Company. OFAC addition­ally imposed sanctions on Mabroo­ka Chief Executive Officer Hossein Pournaghshband and on one Chi­nese and five Iranian nationals.

In announcing the sanctions, Adam J. Szubin, acting undersec­retary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said: “Iran’s ballistic missile programme poses a signifi­cant threat to regional and global security and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions.”

Szubin added that the nuclear agreement does not bring an end to US scrutiny of Iranian behaviour: “We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigor­ously press sanctions against Ira­nian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — in­cluding those related to Iran’s sup­port for terrorism, regional destabi­lisation, human rights abuses and ballistic missile programme.”

Not surprisingly, Iran was not happy with the new sanctions. The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: “The Islamic Re­public will respond to these aggra­vating and propagandistic meas­ures by pursuing its legal missile programme stronger than before and developing its defensive capa­bilities.”

Insisting that Iran’s missile pro­gramme is designed only for con­ventional payloads, Foreign Min­istry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said: “US sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile programme… have no legal or moral legitimacy”.

Mark Habeeb is East-West editor of The Arab Weekly and adjunct professor of Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University in Washington.

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