US slaps new sanctions on Iran

White House targets Revolutionary Guards; China reportedly may join efforts.

Obama serious 311 (photo credit: AP)
Obama serious 311
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday slapped new sanctions on several affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, targeting one person and four companies for penalties over their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported that China was also considering joining the West's sanctions. After Russia, China was until now the strongest opponent of harsher sanctions, enjoying strong trade ties with Iran and being one of the country's main oil clients.
The American Treasury Department said it is freezing the assets in US jurisdictions of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a previously penalized construction firm that he runs. The sanctions expand existing US unilateral penalties against elements of the Guard Corps, or IRGC, which Western intelligence officials believe is spearheading Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
The announcement came as the administration is pressing to impose fresh international sanctions on Iran over its failure to prove its nuclear program is peaceful. US officials are lobbying for action at the UN Security Council, which has already hit Iran with three sets of sanctions.
Qasemi commands the Guard Corps' Khatam alAnbiya Construction Headquarters, which Treasury described as its engineering arm that is involved in the construction of streets, tunnels, waterworks, agricultural projects and pipelines. Its profits "are available to support the full range of the IRGC's illicit activities, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism," Treasury said in a statement.
Khatam alAnbiya was hit with US sanctions by the Bush administration in 2007. Wednesday's penalties apply to Qasemi and Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries, the Fater Engineering Institute, the Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, the Makin Institute and the Rahab Institute.
"As the IRGC consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranianeconomy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a selectgroup of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbiyaand its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world," saidStuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financialintelligence.
"Today's action exposing Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries will help firmsworldwide avoid business that ultimately benefits the IRGC and itsdangerous activities," he said.