U.S. names officials, companies in bid to raise pressure on Iran

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Obama administration ratcheted up pressure against Iran on Tuesday, identifying senior officials that it said had aided terrorist groups, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, and naming 21 businesses that it said were secretly owned or controlled by the Islamic republic.

The moves exemplify the administration's push to organize tougher sanctions against Iran in an effort to force the country to abandon what the West suspects is an attempt to build an atomic bomb. Iran says its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful, but has rejected White House entreaties to discuss the program.

Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Treasury sought to thwart Iran's support of terrorist groups and to warn U.S. companies to avoid doing business with banks, investment houses, mining companies and engineering firms that have hidden ties with Iran.

"As its isolation from the international financial and commercial systems increases, the government of Iran will continue efforts to evade sanctions, including using government-owned entities around the world that are not easily identifiable as Iranian to facilitate transactions in support of their illicit activities," Levey said. "Today's identifications will mitigate the risk that such entities pose to legitimate transactions."

The companies unmasked Tuesday were said to operate in Belarus, Germany, Italy, Japan and Luxembourg, as well as Iran, and their names include Ascotec Japan, Breyeller Stahl Technology, IFIC Holding AG and Onerbank Zao.

Meanwhile, Treasury said it had targeted four senior officers in the Qods force, an elite arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for assisting militant groups designated by the United States as terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah, which also is a key player in the Lebanese government. Two of the officers, Hushang Allahdad and Mohammad Reza Zahedi, play key roles in Iran's support of Hezbollah, and two others, Gen. Hossein Musavi and Col. Hasan Mortezavi, provided "financial and material support" to the Taliban, Treasury said.

Treasury also imposed sanctions on several other Iranian entities and individuals for aiding Hezbollah.

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