The US on Tuesday blacklisted and sanctioned a Chinese company for providing services to Iranian airline Mahan Air, accusing it of "carrying gold from Venezuela’s vaults back to Iran”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was designating Shanghai Saint Logistics, a China-based company, and the Treasury Department also announced sanctions.
Mr Pompeo accused the company of providing “general sales agent services for the specially designated global terrorist Iranian airline.”
Mahan Air was designated thus in 2011 for “providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force”.
“The People’s Republic of China is one of the rapidly dwindling number of countries that welcomes Mahan Air, which ferries weapons and terrorists around the world for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Such co-operation has consequences,” Mr Pompeo said, amid souring relations between China and the US.
The US claims Iran has also used Mahan Air for shipments to Venezuela to boost energy production for President Nicolas Maduro's government.
Five Iranian oil vessels were on their way to Venezuela in breach of US sanctions, Reuters reported last week.
“It is equally troubling that Mahan Air appears to be carrying gold from Venezuela’s vaults back to Iran, depriving the Venezuelan people of resources needed to rebuild their economy,” Mr Pompeo said,
A BBC investigation revealed this month that Mahan Air has sent 157 secret flights to China, overriding coronavirus pandemic restrictions.