The sanctions would freeze all assets held by the companies that fall under US jurisdiction, generally bar US companies and individuals from dealing with them, and potentially subject non-US financial institutions that knowingly facilitate “significant transactions” for them to US sanctions, according to Reuters.
In addition, the US government imposed sanctions on two other companies, Jiaxiang Industry Hong Kong Limited and Shandong Oiwangwa Petrochemical Co Ltd, and two individuals, Ali Bayandrian, reportedly linked to Triliance Petroleum, and Zhiqing Wang, a Chinese national linked to Shandong Oiwangwa.
The announcements are the latest in the US “maximum pressure” campaign designed to squeeze the Iranian economy and to force Iran to renegotiate a new nuclear deal after Washington dishonored a 2015 agreement in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Tehran.
Since then, Iran has rowed back on its nuclear commitments to the nuclear deal, saying, however, that its reciprocal measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield its economy from unilateral US sanctions.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington deteriorated earlier this month after the US assassinated Iranian military commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Iranians barred from entering US
The US, locked in a tense confrontation with Iran in the Middle East, has also barred Iranians from entering the country on trade and investment visas from Thursday.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services attributed the change to the termination in October 2018 of a treaty of amity with Iran.
The E-1 and E-2 nonimmigrant visas allow citizens of other countries to be admitted into the United States to engage in international trade or to invest a large sum of capital.
Iranians are no longer eligible for such visas, the service said. Those already in the country with these visas must leave once their authorized stay expires, it said. It was not clear how many Iranians will be affected.
The US anti-Iran measures have largely targeted Iranians inside Iran and around the world.
A US border officer in an email obtained by CBC News said the US border officers working at multiple Canada-US border crossings were instructed to target and interrogate Iranian-born travelers in early January, cbc.ca reported.
The report follows accounts that up to 200 people of Iranian descent traveling from British Columbia – many of them Canadian or US citizens – were detained and questioned for hours at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Wash., during the weekend of Jan. 4.
“Those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said.
Amid escalated diplomatic tensions with Iran, a growing number of Iranian students are also being sent away by the US authorities.
An Iranian student was turned away from Boston’s Logan International Airport on Monday, sparking protests over the latest in a growing number of cases of international students blocked from entering the United States, according to The New York Times.
Shahab Dehqani, 24, who was planning to study economics at Northeastern University, arrived in Boston on Sunday night with a valid student visa but was held at the airport overnight for questioning and put back on a plane to Iran the next evening.
His flight left minutes after his lawyers obtained a court order directing the immigration authorities to allow Dehqani to remain in the country for 48 hours while his case was reviewed. But a federal judge declared the issue moot in an emergency hearing on Tuesday morning because Dehqani had already departed.
Dehqani is one of at least 13 Iranian students who have been turned away since August at airports across the country despite having valid visas. The cases have sparked outrage among immigrant rights advocates, local organizers and federal politicians, who say the students are being unfairly treated because of their heritage, and are experiencing devastating personal and professional fallout.