WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States imposed sanctions on three shipping companies in Malta that it said are fronts for Iran’s national maritime carrier.
The sanctions were imposed last Friday on Marble Shipping Limited and the Bushehr Shipping Company, which are owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines,
and ISI Maritime Limited, which is owned by an Islamic Republic Shipping subsidiary, to keep Iran from sidestepping international sanctions.
The companies are banned from all transactions with U.S. companies and individuals, and their assets under U.S. jurisdiction were frozen.
Stuart Levey, U.S. Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, wrote Monday in an opinion article for the Financial Times that the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines forges documents, changes ship names and sends cargo through front companies located abroad in order to avoid the sanctions.
Levey called on U.S industries to beware of Tehran’s attempts to evade the sanctions. He wrote that IRISL, the national maritime carrier, has carried military cargoes that are in violation of international sanctions. Recently an arms shipment believed designated for Syria and Hezbollah was stopped.
The United States, the United Nations and the European Union have imposed stricter sanctions on Iran after the Islamic Republic refused to stop its uranium enrichment program. Iran says it will only use the uranium for peaceful purposes.