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Trump administration targets Iranian steel during final weeks in White House

Treasury Department issued sanctions against 12 Iranian steel and metals makers, three foreign-based sales agents and a Chinese material supplier
A view of the steel facility in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, 548 miles southwest of Tehran on 28 September 2011 (Reuters/File photo)

With just two weeks left in the White House, the Trump administration has moved to levy further sanctions against Iran by way of its steel industry.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the US Treasury Department said it blacklisted 12 Iranian steel and metals makers and three foreign-based sales agents of a major Iranian metals and mining holding company. 

"The Iranian metals sector is an important revenue source for the Iranian regime, generating wealth for its corrupt leaders and financing a range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for foreign terrorist groups, and a variety of human rights abuses at home and abroad," the Treasury said. 

A China-based company that the department said had provided thousands of metric tonnes of materials to Iranian steel companies between December 2019 and June 2020 was also sanctioned. 

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The Treasury alleged that Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology Co, Ltd (KFCC) "fulfilled orders totaling thousands of metric tons of materials for several Iranian steel companies" during the six-month period. 

It also claimed that KFCC had worked with an Iranian trading firm to sell 300 metric tonnes of graphic electrodes and other equipment to Iranian steelmaker Pasargad Steel Complex.

Pasargad Steel Complex was among the 12 Iranian companies blacklisted on Tuesday. 

"The Trump Administration remains committed to denying revenue flowing to the Iranian regime as it continues to sponsor terrorist groups, support oppressive regimes, and seek weapons of mass destruction," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the department's statement. 

US President Donald Trump, along with his administration, leaves office on 20 January, when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. 

In anticipation of the Biden team's plans to re-enter a nuclear deal with Iran, in recent months the Trump administration has shifted to imposing non-nuclear related sanctions, which would be harder to lift during negotiations. 

US sanctions on Iran have increased pressure on the cost of living for ordinary people, driving up the prices of everyday goods, including food and medicine.