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India-Based Petrochem Company Among Those Sanctioned by US for Evading Iran Sanctions

According to the list released by the US Department of Treasury, India-based petrochemical company Tibalaji Petrochem Private Limited has purchased millions of dollars worth of products for onward shipment to China.

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Washington (US): The US on Thursday imposed sanctions on several companies including those based in China, Hong Kong, India and the UAE for facilitating financial transfers and shipping of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.

The US is taking further action to disrupt efforts to evade sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Specifically, the Department of State is imposing sanctions on two People’s Republic of China (PRC)-based entities: Zhonggu Storage and Transportation Co Ltd, which operates a commercial crude oil storage facility for Iranian petroleum that provides a vital conduit for the Iranian petroleum trade, as well as WS Shipping Co Ltd, the ship manager for a vessel that has transported Iranian petroleum products, he said.

The Department of the Treasury is also designating eight entities for their involvement in Iran’s petrochemical trade. These entities are based in Hong Kong, Iran, India, and the United Arab Emirates, Blinken said in a statement.

In a statement, the Department of Treasury said these entities have played a critical role in concealing the origin of the Iranian shipments and enabling two sanctioned Iranian brokers, Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (Triliance) and Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co (PGPICC), to transfer funds and ship Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals to buyers in Asia.

According to the list released by the Department of Treasury, India-based petrochemical company Tibalaji Petrochem Private Limited has purchased millions of dollars worth of Triliance-brokered petrochemical products, including methanol and base oil, for onward shipment to China.

“As Iran continues to accelerate its nuclear program in violation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we will continue to accelerate our enforcement of sanctions on Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical sales under authorities that would be removed under the JCPOA,” Blinken said.

The JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme reached in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany and the European Union.

Under its terms, Iran agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to more extensive international inspections in exchange for billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.

Former president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018. The US and Iran’s indirect talks to revive the pact have broken down.

Iran has long denied it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons while saying it has a right to civilian nuclear infrastructure.

“These enforcement actions will continue on a regular basis, with an aim to severely restrict Iran’s oil and petrochemical exports. Anyone involved in facilitating these illegal sales and transactions should cease and desist immediately if they wish to avoid US sanctions,” Blinken said.

“The United States is committed to severely restricting Iran’s illicit oil and petrochemical sales,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson.

“So long as Iran refuses a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the United States will continue to enforce its sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products,” Nelson said.

The Treasury said these economic sanctions, which are reversible in the event of Iran’s return to JCPOA compliance, follow the designations imposed last week against the so-called morality police and other law enforcement organisations and individuals responsible for the custody death of Mahsa Amini and the violent repression of the protests that have followed.

“We remain concerned about a wide range of Iranian policies, from their nuclear programme to abuses perpetrated against their own people, to supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine with drones and military training, and destabilising activities across the region, and we will continue to respond to these dangerous policies with sanctions and other tools,” it said.

(Lalit K. Jha)