On Thursday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton imposed sanctions on three companies that were doing business with Iran’s energy sector.
The three companies were the Zhuhai Zhenrong Company (Zhenrong) based out of China, Kuo Oil (S) Pte. Ltd. (Kuo) based out of Singapore and the FAL Oil Company Limited (FAL) based out of the United Arab Emirates.
Clinton imposed the sanctions under provisions that were amended to the Iran Sanctions Act by last year’s Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA). CISADA received overwhelming support from Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in July 2010.
The State Department noted that these companies would be barred from receiving "U.S. export licenses, U.S. Export Import Bank financing and loans over $10 million from U.S. financial institutions."
In its statement, the State Department highlighted that the results of actions by the U.S. and its allies have provided an "unprecedented international sanctions effort aimed at convincing Iran to change its behavior. The sanctions announced today are an important step toward that goal, as they target the individual companies that help Iran evade these efforts."
While the sanctions today are a step forward in stopping companies from doing business with Iran’s energy sector, a senior Republican congressional aide with knowledge of Iran sanctions emphasized that the administration has still not gone after major Chinese entities that do business in Iran.
"Is this really how far the bar has fallen that the administration deserves praise for taking more than a year to enforce the law and still refusing to designate major Chinese energy firms and banks? These sanctions came today because the administration ran out of get-out-of-jail waivers and had to follow the law. Not exactly a profile in courage," the Republican staffer told me.
However, a Democratic Hill staffer argued that the Obama administration has taken more actions on Iran sanctions than the George W. Bush administration ever did.
"I am glad that the Obama administration is taking stronger actions than the Bush administration took. It’s just the latest action in a string of measures that this administration has done to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Republicans can spin it however they want, but at the end of the day, these sanctions are good for America, good for Israel and help stop Iran from its dangerous and reckless pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Had President Bush taken these steps while he was president, maybe we would not be where we are today," the Democratic staffer said.