U.S. adds three companies to sanctions list

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration slapped sanctions on a a Chinese firm that is Iran’s leading supplier of refined petroleum.

In a statement Thursday, the State Department announced that it was sanctioning the state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Company, which brokered the sale of over $500 million of oil from July 2010 to January 2011.

The department also sanctioned Kuo Oil (S) Pte. Ltd. (Kuo), based in Singapore, and the FAL Oil Company Limited (FAL), based in the United Arab Emirates.

The Obama administration has, in recent weeks, intensified its economic pressure on Iran sanctions and is contemplating targeting third parties dealing with the Central Bank of Iran, which would effectively cut off much of Iran’s economy from the West.

The United States is leading Western nations that want Iran to make its nuclear weapons program transparent.

Until now, the Obama administration has resisted targeting Chinese companies, hoping instead to persuade China to help ratchet up Iran’s isolation.

The sanctions target refined petroleum providers because Iran, while a major crude producer, lacks refinement capacities.

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