US seeks to sanction firms disguising Iranian oil shipments

SINGAPORE - The United States will target companies that help disguise Iranian oil shipments to skirt Western sanctions, a State Department official said, as Washington steps up the pressure on Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.
The sanctions have cost Iran billions of dollars in lost oil revenue. Its exports plunged by more than half last year, forcing a nation that was once OPEC's second largest oil producer to try and sell its crude under the radar.
The US official said he planned this week to meet government and company officials in Malaysia, where a Reuters investigation last year revealed two tankers lying at anchor near the tax-haven port of Labuan, storing millions of barrels of Iranian oil
"Concealing the origin of Iranian crude, or shipping Iranian crude to a non-excepted country is a sanctionable offense," the US official told Reuters.
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