Washington: The Obama administration on Tuesday
hit seven foreign companies, including Venezuela` state-owned
oil company and an Israeli shipping firm, with sanctions for
doing business with Iran that helps fund its nuclear program.
At the same time, the administration imposed separate
sanctions on more than 15 people and companies in China, Iran,
North Korea, Syria and elsewhere for illicit trading in
missile technology and weapons of mass destruction.
The State Department announced the penalties as the
administration widened the scope of measures against firms
that supply or transport refined petroleum products, including
gasoline, to Iran.
The announcement came a day after President Barack
Obama signed an executive order giving the departments of
Treasury and State more leeway in targeting companies involved
in Iran`s energy sector in order to boost pressure on Iran to
meet international demands and prove its nuclear program is
The affected companies include Petroleos de Venezuela,
Tanker Pacific of Singapore, Ofer Brothers Group of Israel,
Associated Shipbroking of Monaco, Petrochemical Commercial
Company International of Jersey and Iran, the Royal Oyster
Group of the United Arab Emirates and Speedy Ship of the
United Arab Emirates and Iran.
"All of these companies have engaged in activities
related to the supply of refined petroleum products to Iran,
including the direct supply of gasoline and related products,"
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in announcing the
sanctions. US officials say Iran uses revenue from its
energy sector to fund its nuclear program.