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U.S. Blacklists Foreign Firms over Iranian Oil Deals

Flag in front of Iran’s Foreign Ministry building in Tehran (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

The U.S. added four foreign companies to its Iran blacklist Thursday after they reportedly transferred hundreds of millions to the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company for oil exports.

Two of the companies are based in Hong Kong, one in Shanghai, and the fourth in Dubai. By placing the firms on the blacklist, the U.S. can freeze their American-held assets and halt any American business dealings with them.

“This is simply another step in the economic terrorism the U.S. is engaging in against Iranians,” Alireza Miryousefi, Iran’s U.N. mission spokesman, told The Wall Street Journal. “It will not, however, bring any satisfaction to those looking to cripple the proud nation of Iran.”

President Trump announced new sanctions on Tehran earlier this month following an Iranian rocket attack on two U.S. military bases in Iraq, but emphasized a de-escalatory stance, saying “the United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

The U.S. has been strangling the Iranian economy since 2018, with the administration announcing in April 2019 that it would end exemptions for Iranian export partners in an effort to eliminate Iran’s foreign oil market.

“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the White House said in a statement at the time.

The pressure caused Iran to back out of its 2015 nuclear deal with the Obama administration, with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif saying U.S. actions under Trump had made the deal “impossible to continue.”

“We do not want to leave the agreement. All the people of the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA; it is a new step within the framework of the JCPOA,” Iranian President Rouhani initially said in May.

Earlier this month, Iran ended all commitments under the deal after a Trump-ordered airstrike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

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