U.S. warns allies on business ties to Iran

Classical-style building (© J. David Ake/AP Images)
The U.S. Treasury building (© J. David Ake/AP Images)

U.S. allies and partners will face “very significant risks” if they continue to do business with Iran, including the possibility of getting hit with sanctions from Washington.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned that Iran’s use of shell companies and illicit financing to fund malign activities continued unabated, even after it signed the 2015 nuclear deal. U.S. officials said they expected Tehran to ramp up such activities.

“The Iranian regime will deceive your companies, undermine the integrity of your financial systems, and put your institutions at risk of our powerful sanctions, all to fund terrorism, human rights abuses and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis,” said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“We continue to see Iran use deceptive tactics, including front and shell companies to exploit markets in numerous countries,” Mandelker said in a speech June 5 at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

Do extra work to stop Iran

She urged U.S. allies to harden their financial systems and encourage their companies to do extra work to make sure they are not inadvertently helping pay for what she called Iran’s nefarious activities across the Middle East.

“To our allies and partners around the world, we ask that you add your voices to ours in condemning Iran’s deceptive, exploitive and destructive practices,” she said.

Mandelker also warned the U.S. “will apply unprecedented financial pressure” against the Iranian government.

“Our powerful economic authorities will give the regime a clear choice: change its unacceptable support for terrorism, destabilizing activities and human rights abuses, or face economic calamity,” she said. “The impact of our sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course.”

End to ‘horrible, one-sided deal’

President Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran, calling it “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”

He ordered U.S. agencies to reinstate all nuclear sanctions against Tehran.

But European countries have been hesitant to toss aside the deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided the Iranian government sticks to its provisions.

European Union officials have also taken steps to protect small and midsize companies that have been doing business with Iran.

This article was originally published by Voice of America.