The United States on Thursday placed sanctions on five subsidiaries of Iranian industrial group controlled by the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, an Iranian defence entity that is already under US sanctions.
The sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, an arm of the Treasury Department, targets the Iranian industrial group that is considered key in the development and production of the country's ballistic missiles.
The latest sanctions are directed at Shahid Kharrazi Industries, Shahid Sanikhani Industries, Shahid Moghaddam Industries, Shahid Eslami Research Center and Shahid Shustari Industries, all linked to Shahid Bakeri. Each of these companies produces a specific component of ballistic missiles, such as guidance and control systems, motor cases or fibre materials, reports quoting US authorities said.
To prove the Industrial group's involvement in Iran's missile [programme, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley had, last month, showed reporters fragments from missiles that had been launched by Yemeni rebels into Saudi Arabia. One shredded fragment had the Shahid Bakeri logo on it.
''These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran's ballistic missile programme, which the Iranian regime prioritises over the economic well-being of the Iranian people,'' said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. ''As the Iranian people suffer, their government and the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) fund foreign militants, terrorist groups and human rights abuses.''
It may be noted that the new sanctions come after a week of anti-government protests that have spread across Iran in towns and small cities and more than 20 people have died.
The Trump administration is considering whether to impose new sanctions related to human rights abuses. President Trump had also tweeted his support for the protesters and criticism of the government, warning that ''the world is watching.''
Trump must decide by 15 January whether to recertify Iran's compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers (which he decided not to do in October) and decide whether to waive US nuclear-related sanctions. If he decides to reimpose the sanctions waived under the landmark agreement he would be reneging on the agreement.
While the agreement focused on Iran's ability to amass fissile material and the need for nuclear weapons to be kept in check, it did not address contentious issues such as Iran's support for militant groups in the region or its ballistic missile activities.
The sanctions prohibit all Americans from dealing with these organisations, and provides for freezing any assets they have in the United States.
More significantly, any international bank doing business with the sanctioned firms can be heavily penalized because most international transactions are conducted at least partially in US dollars.