Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 13
By Temkin Jafarov, Saeed Isayev - Trend:
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi has slammed the recent U.S. move on Iran sanctions, IRNA news agency reported on Dec. 13.
Under pressure from Congress to demonstrate that it is not easing up on sanctions on Iran's oil sector or on its nuclear and missile programs, the Obama administration on Dec. 12 announced an expanded list of companies and individuals that it said it would target to block their trading activities around the world, NY Times reported.
Araqchi criticized the U.S. government for making the decision, and said that it goes against the spirit of the Geneva nuclear agreement.
On November 24, Iran and the G5+1 reached a deal in Geneva after days of hard work and intensive negotiations.
"We are assessing the situation with the expanded sanctions," Araqchi said, answeing the question on what steps will Iran undertake in this regard.
Among the newly penalized companies is a Singapore-based firm called Mid Oil Asia, which is accused of helping the National Iranian Tanker Company make payments for services through money transfers that made no mention of the vessels that were aided, or their Iranian ownership.
Another Singapore company, Singa Tankers, is accused of helping Iran make "urgent payments".
Five companies are accused of helping Iran's nuclear and missile program, including an Iranian firm, the Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing Company, that the United States said had procured some of the most sensitive and hard-to-build components for Iran's nuclear centrifuges.
Another firm is accused of helping Iran obtain components for its heavy-water reactor facility, which officials fear will ultimately give Iran another pathway to a bomb capability, using plutonium.
The administration's announcement of its enforcement actions appeared to be timed to set the stage for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear talks and the United States sanctions policy on Dec. 12 morning.
On Dec. 10, Secretary of State John Kerry came under sharp criticism from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who are threatening new sanctions against Iran that the administration fears will undermine the preliminary agreement it reached to freeze major elements of the country's nuclear program.
In return, President Obama agreed to a temporary lifting of sanctions on auto production and petrochemical sales, but not on Iran's oil sector, its greatest source of revenue.