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Source: Reuters

Jun 6, 2023

US slaps sanctions on Iranian, Chinese targets over Tehran's missile, military programs

By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on over a dozen people and entities in Iran, China and Hong Kong, including Iran's defense attache in Beijing, accusing them of running a procurement network for Iran's missile and military programs.

Ae U.S. Treasury Department statement said the network conducted transactions and enabled the procurement of sensitive and critical parts and technology for key actors in Iran’s ballistic missile development, including Iran's defense ministry and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) agency, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Among those hit with sanctions in the action, which comes as Washington ramps up pressure on Tehran, was Iran's defense attache in Beijing, Davoud Damghani, whom the Treasury accused of coordinating military-related procurements from China for Iranian end-users, including MODAFL subsidiaries.

“The United States will continue to target illicit transnational procurement networks that covertly support Iran’s ballistic missile production and other military programs," Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York and China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China and Iran in March 2021 signed a 25-year cooperation agreement to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance. China has been a major buyer of Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions designed to choke off these exports.

Washington targeted centrifuge sales to Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI), dual-use metals sales to its intermediary, P.B. Sadr, and MODAFL's electronics procurement in Tuesday's action. Both PCI and P.B. Sadr were previously hit with sanctions by the United States.

Among those targeted were China-based Zhejiang Qingji Ind. Co., Ltd, which the Treasury accused of selling centrifuges and other equipment and services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to PCI with P.B. Sadr as an intermediary.

Its director and an employee were also targeted, as well as Hong Kong-based Lingoe Process Engineering Limited, which the Treasury said served as a front company for Zhejiang Qingji and its dealings with PCI and P.B. Sadr.

Also among those hit with sanctions were Hong Kong Ke.Do International Trade Co., Limited and China-based Qingdao Zhongrongtong Trade Development Co., Ltd., which the Treasury accused of engaging in the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of dual-use, nonferrous metals to P.B. Sadr.

Zhejiang Qingji did not immediately respond to a request for comment. P.B. Sadr and PCI, as well as the other companies, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Arshad Mohammed and David Brunnstrom; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Heinrich

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