US hits Iran with fresh sanctions as Trump term nears end

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States has blacklisted a Chinese company that makes elements for steel production, 12 Iranian steel and metals makers and three foreign-based sales agents of an Iranian metals and mining holding company, seeking to deprive Iran of revenues as President Donald Trump’s term winds down.

The US Treasury Department named the China-based company as Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology (KFCC), saying it specialised in the manufacture of carbon materials and provided thousands of metric tonnes of materials to Iranian steel companies between December 2019 and June 2020.

No one at KFCC, which makes graphite electrodes, was available for comment on Wednesday (Jan 6). Filings show that the company is owned by Henan Yicheng New Energy, which said it was unaware of the situation.

When Yicheng was buying KFCC in 2019, it said exports – to South-east Asia, the Middle East and Europe – accounted for about half of KFCC’s core business.

Among the 12 Iranian companies blacklisted are the Pasargad Steel Complex and the Gilan Steel Complex, both of which were designated under Executive Order 13871 for operating in the Iranian steel sector.

The Treasury said it was also designating Middle East Mines and Mineral Industries Development Holding’s Germany-based subsidiary GMI Projects Hamburg, its China-based World Mining Industry and UK-based GMI Projects for being owned or controlled by the Middle East Mines and Mineral Industries Development Holding.

“The Trump Administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime as it continues to sponsor terrorist groups, support oppressive regimes, and seek weapons of mass destruction,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

Mr Trump’s term ends on Jan 20, when Democrat President-elect Joe Biden is to be sworn in to succeed him.

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