US sanctions companies from China, Dubai for dealings with Iran

WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday targeted companies from China and Dubai for allegedly helping Iran evade weapons and oil sanctions, a signal Washington will keep pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The US Treasury Department said it was sanctioning eight Chinese companies for procuring missile parts for Iran. The department also said it was targeting a firm based in Dubai and several associated individuals for helping Iran evade US sanctions against its oil industry.

Iran and a group of world powers reached a temporary deal in November under which Tehran would get about US$7 billion (S$8.79 billion) in sanctions relief in return for steps to restrain its nuclear activities.

The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year, and the US Treasury said on Tuesday it was still pressing for a more definitive resolution. "We will continue vigorously to enforce our sanctions, even as we explore the possibility of a comprehensive deal addressing Iran's nuclear programme," David Cohen, an under secretary at the Treasury who oversees sanctions policy, said in a statement.

A United Nations report said earlier this month that Iran has acted to cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile by nearly 75 per cent, making clear that Tehran is undertaking the agreed steps to curb its nuclear programme.