US to impose sanctions on Iran’s metal exports and its leaders

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran last week, including penalties on the Islamic Republic’s metals and some senior leaders, following Tehran’s attack on U.S. military bases.

The sanctions target steel, aluminum, copper and iron, as well as eight senior Iranian officials and sectors of the economy, such as construction, manufacturing, textiles and mining, reported Bloomberg News quoting the US Treasury Department.

“This order will have a major impact on the Iranian economy,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “These punishing economic sanctions will remain until the Iranian regime changes its behavior.”

The move to expand penalties on the Islamic Republic comes one day after Trump said Iran would be sanctioned “immediately” for the airstrikes against two U.S. military installations in Iraq, which resulted in no casualties.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking at the White House on Friday, also said that the U.S. will issue waivers on sanctions against Iran to allow investigators from the U.S. and other countries to participate in the probe of a Ukrainian jetliner crash in Tehran earlier this week. U.S. and other nations’ officials have said the passenger jet was likely downed by an Iranian missile around the time Tehran was attacking the bases in Iraq.

The new measures are aimed at cracking down on Iran’s few remaining sources of export revenue and squeezing the nation’s economy to force its leaders back into negotiations for a new nuclear agreement.

The Treasury Department also sanctioned foreign purchasers and transporters of Iranian steel, saying they were providing “critical materials for Iranian metal production.”

In a statement, Treasury said the actions target the 13 largest steel and iron manufacturers in Iran and top copper and aluminum producers.

Tehran has repeatedly rebuffed the Trump administration’s overtures to talk, even as existing sprawling sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy.

Guidance from the US State and Treasury Departments will warn ship insurers, banks, charter companies, port owners, crews and captains that they all face sanctions exposure if they can’t account for the legitimacy of the cargoes they carry.

The administration is seeking to close a significant loophole that allows Iran and other nations to avoid sanctions: ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil, refined petroleum and other goods.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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