Middle East Online

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US expands scope of Iran metals sanctions

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said he was expanding the scope of Iran metals sanctions, targeting 22 specific materials that he said were used in connection with Iran’s nuclear, military or ballistic missile programs.

Pompeo in a statement called it a “major expansion” of the Iran metals-related sanctions administered by the State Department, allowing Washington to blacklist those who knowingly transfer the materials to Iran.

“Iran’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and military programs pose a grave threat to international peace and security,” Pompeo said in the statement.

Pompeo also said he was firm in his determination that Iran’s elite security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), controls Iran’s construction sector.

As a result, sanctions may still be imposed on those who knowingly transfer certain materials, including graphite or raw or semi-finished metals, to or from Iran to be used in connection with the Islamic Republic’s construction sector, Pompeo said.

The materials he said he had determined are used in connection with Iran’s nuclear, military or ballistic missile programs included aluminum powder with purity above 98%.

Reuters reported in June that Iran Alumina Company’s aluminum complex near the city of Jajarm is also home to a secret facility, set up by the IRGC, that has produced powder for use in Iran’s missile program.

Aluminum powder is a key ingredient in solid-fuel propellants used to launch missiles.

The United States has previously targeted Iran’s metals sector with sanctions in an effort to slash Iranian revenues.

Pompeo gave his clearest indication yet that the United States would seek to force UN sanctions on Iran if an arms embargo lapses.

Russia and China, two of the Permanent Five nations that enjoy veto power on the Security Council, want the UN embargo on selling conventional weapons to Iran to end on October 18 as laid out under a 2015 resolution.

Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States would introduce a resolution to extend the embargo “in the near future” which “we hope will be met with approval from other members of the P5.”

“In the event it’s not, we’re going to take the action necessary to ensure that this arms embargo does not expire,” he said.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began re-imposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord. Source