WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Wednesday slapped
new sanctions on several affiliates of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, targeting one person and four companies for penalties over their alleged involvement in producing and spreading weapons of mass destruction.
The Treasury Department said it is freezing the assets in U.S. jurisdictions of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Rostam Qasemi and four subsidiaries of a previously penalized construction firm that he runs. The sanctions expand existing U.S. unilateral penalties against elements of the Guard Corps, or IRGC, which Western intelligence officials believe is spearheading Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
The announcement came as the administration is pressing to impose fresh international sanctions on Iran over its failure to prove its nuclear program is peaceful. U.S. officials are lobbying for action at the U.N. Security Council, which has already hit Iran with three sets of sanctions.
Qasemi commands the Guard Corps' Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, which Treasury described as its engineering arm that is involved in the construction of streets, tunnels, waterworks, agricultural projects and pipelines. Its profits "are available to support the full range of the IRGC's illicit activities, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism," Treasury said in a statement.
Khatam al-Anbiya was hit with U.S. sanctions by the Bush administration in 2007. Wednesday's penalties apply to Qasemi and Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries, the Fater Engineering Institute, the Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, the Makin Institute and the Rahab Institute.
"As the IRGC consolidates control over broad swaths of the Iranian economy, displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders, it is hiding behind companies like Khatam al-Anbiya and its affiliates to maintain vital ties to the outside world," said Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
"Today's action exposing Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiaries will help firms worldwide avoid business that ultimately benefits the IRGC and its dangerous activities," he said.