US slaps sanctions against Belarusian company for Iran ties

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 15:24

Washington: The US Wednesday slapped sanctions on a state-owned energy company in Belarus over its investment with an Iranian firm accused of contributing to Islamic Republic`s controversial nuclear programme.

"The State Department is sanctioning Belarusneft, a
state-owned Belarusian energy company, under the Iran
Sanctions Act of 1996 as amended by the Comprehensive Iran
Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, for its involvement in the Iranian petroleum sector," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Such a decision was taken following a thorough review,
in which the Department of State confirmed that Belarusneft
entered into a USD 500 million contract with the NaftIran
Intertrade Company in 2007 for the development of the Jofeir
oilfield in Iran.

The ISA requires that sanctions be imposed on
companies that make certain investments over USD 20 million.
"This action on Belarusneft is another application of
US sanctions on Iran," he said.

In September 2010, the State Department announced
sanctions on the NaftIran Intertrade Company and the
Department has applied the "Special Rule" in CISADA to
persuade five major multinational energy companies to pledge
to end their investments in Iran and provide assurances not to
undertake new energy-related activity in Iran that may be
sanctionable.
The companies are: Total of France, Statoil of Norway,
ENI of Italy, Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands, and INPEX
of Japan.

Since President Barack Obama signed CISADA into law on
July 1, 2010, Iran`s ability to attract new investment to
develop its oil and natural gas resources, and to produce or
import refined petroleum products, has been severely limited.

The State Department`s direct engagement with
companies and governments to enforce CISADA is raising the
pressure on the Government of Iran.

In the past year, many foreign companies have
abandoned their energy-related projects in Iran or have
stopped shipping refined petroleum to Iran.

This is an appropriate response to Iran`s longstanding
use of its oil and gas sector to facilitate its proliferation
activities and thereby its noncompliance with its nuclear
obligations, Toner said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 15:24

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