US sanctions seven companies for dealing with Iran

The Bush administration has imposed sanctions against seven foreign companies, including two from India and two from Russia, after accusing them of business dealings with Iran involving sensitive technology, the government said Friday. The action comes at a sensitive time for the Bush administration, which is trying to push through Congress its plan to sell civilian nuclear technology to India. In addition, the United States is trying to enlist Moscow's help to pressure Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear programs. Tensions between the United States and Iran are running high over Teheran's nuclear effort and its support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia at war with Israel in southern Lebanon. The seven businesses, which also included two from North Korea and one from Cuba, were found to be in violation of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The law is aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction to Teheran. Under the sanctions, the federal government is prohibited from dealing with any of the seven companies. The sanctions also suspend any current export licenses to the foreign entities for certain products considered sensitive under a 1979 law and prohibits issuance of new licenses.