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U.S. Going After Additional Companies Tied to Iran

By Jordain Carney

National Journal

The United States is targeting more than a dozen companies and individuals for violating sanctions against Iran and supporting the country's nuclear program.

The move will block the designees from engaging in transactions with U.S. individuals and will allow the United States to freeze any assets currently under its jurisdiction, as well as any that fall into its control in the future, the State and Treasury departments announced Thursday.

"Today's actions should be a stark reminder to businesses, banks, and brokers everywhere that we will continue relentlessly to enforce our sanctions," David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a release.

The announcement comes as the administration continues its push to convince senators to hold off on passing additional sanctions against Iran, arguing that they would unravel progress made in the interim deal over the country's nuclear program. But Republican senators and some Democrats are continuing to call for a vote on increasing sanctions. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has threatened to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act unless he receives assurances that a sanctions vote will be held.

A senior administration official said the decision to roll out the designations against the companies and individuals is "quite different than layering on new sanction authorities that don't currently exist."

Pushing back against the notion that companies should interpret the interim agreement as a sign that they can go to Iran to try to boost their businesses, the official said, "I hope they don't have a six-month visa.... There's just no reason to believe that Iran is now open for business. It's not."

Another senior administration official added that naming new designees while also pursuing talks about Iran's nuclear program reflects the administration's "two-track policy" of pressure and diplomacy.

The officials wouldn't speculate about what sanctions against Iran would look like under a long-term, comprehensive agreement, but they called a recent report that the interim deal would give Iran approximately $20 billion in sanctions relief "completely fantastical," adding that the administration believes the sanctions relief is between $6 billion and $7 billion if Iran can take advantage of auto and petrochemical provisions.

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