US hits major Iranian airline with sanctions

Iranian airline, port operator singled out because of ties to Revolutionary Guard and role in shipment of equipment, arms and technology.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian Revolutionary Guard 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US Treasury on Thursday sanctioned a major Iranian airline and port operator in an effort to disrupt a transportation system America says is helping in nuclear and other arms proliferation activities.
US officials said the two companies – Iran Air and Tidewater Middle East Co. – were singled out because of ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and their role in facilitating the shipment of equipment, arms and technology linked to Tehran’s missile program, and efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities.
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The designation freezes any assets in the United States, but the Treasury hopes it will also encourage other countries to cease cooperation with these companies, and otherwise limit the IRGC’s ability to operate.
“The IRGC’s illicit activities and its increasing displacement of the legitimate Iranian private sector in major strategic industries, including in the commercial and energy sectors, are deeply troubling,” said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, in a joint statement released Thursday.
They called the IRGC the “domestic ‘enforcer’ for the Iranian regime,” and charged that it “continues to play an important proliferation role by orchestrating the import and export of prohibited items to and from Iran, is involved in the support of terrorism throughout the region, and is responsible for serious human rights abuses against peaceful Iranian protesters and other opposition participants.”
“As in the past, we expect the international private sector will react to these actions by cutting off ties to both entities, in order to minimize the reputational risk of doing business with entities linked to the IRGC,” said a senior Treasury official briefing reporters on the sanctions.
“These actions should further isolate Iran from the international economy, and ultimately make the cost of doing business higher than ever.”