Chinese companies and executives hit with US sanctions for dealing with Iran

US move follows the expiry of UN arms embargo on Iran

(FILES) In this file photo Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, October 14, 2020, in Washington, DC.  US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on October 18, 2020 said that arms sales to Iran would breach UN resolutions and result in sanctions, after Tehran said the longstanding UN embargo on arms trade with the Islamic republic had expired. "The United States is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran," Pompeo said in a statement.
 / AFP / POOL / Manuel Balce CENETA
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The US on Monday imposed sanctions on six companies and two executives in China and Hong Kong for trading with an Iranian shipping line that has been linked to the country’s ballistic missile and military programmes.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was putting sanctions on companies that have carried out business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which he said is known to transport “proliferation-sensitive items” to Iran’s military.

The move follows the expiry of a UN arms embargo on Iran on Sunday and shows the US coming good on promises to keep the embargo active despite opposition from European allies, Russia, China and others.

“Today we reiterate a warning to stakeholders worldwide: if you do business with IRISL, you risk US sanctions,” Mr Pompeo said.

The sanctions extend to Chinese companies doing business with the IRISL and its subsidiary in Shanghai, Hafez Darya Arya Shipping Company.

Those affected firms are Reach Holding Group, Reach Shipping Lines, Delight Shipping, Gracious Shipping, Noble Shipping and Supreme Shipping.

The sanctioned people are Eric Chen and Daniel He, who are the chief executive and president of Reach Holding Group and “knowingly sold, supplied, or transferred a large container vessel to Iran", Mr Pompeo said.

Reach Holding Group also helped IRISL to “conceal” its activities in China, including by “lying to Chinese companies … and falsifying documents and engaging in other deceptive practices so that Chinese” officials were kept in the dark, he said.

Those named on the US Treasury Department’s list of “specially designated” people and companies have their US-based assets frozen.

US citizens and residents are typically barred from doing business with them.

The Trump administration in 2018 left a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions to force Tehran to curtail its nuclear and ballistic work, and its support for proxy forces in the region.

Responding to Mr Pompeo’s announcement of sanctions on Monday, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said the Trump administration had the “wrong approach again” and was increasingly isolated.

“US playing a 'world policeman', substituting UN Security Council, is an unwelcome role,” Mr Polyanskiy said on Twitter.

“We are doing and will be doing business with #Iran and it’s not up to the US to tell us or others what they can or can’t do.

"Stop humiliating US in this pointless endeavour.”