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New US Sanctions over Tehran's Missile Program - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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US Judiciary Officials during a press conference on Thursday announcing Iranian suspects in cyber spying

US Judiciary Officials during a press conference on Thursday announcing Iranian suspects in cyber spying

Washington-The US Department of the Treasury has imposed financial sanctions on two more Iranian companies for allegedly supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The latest groups to join that list, subsidiaries of “Shahid Hemmat Industrial” and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “Al-Ghadir” Missile Command, are said to have been involved in test launches on 8 and 9 March.

On March 9, the IRGC successfully test-fired two more ballistic missiles as part of its military drills, yet the US claimed the tests violate a UN resolution.

Washington’s latest legal move against Tehran was announced on Thursday, weeks after the United States imposed similar sanctions on 11 other companies and individuals alleged to be involved in the missile program.

The latest measures cut off Iran’s Shahid Nuri Industries and Shahid Movahed Industries from international finance.

The United States said the companies are working for an industrial group, which Washington alleged is in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The Treasury Department also imposed restrictions on two British businessmen, Jeffrey John James Ashfield and John Edward Meadows, for doing business with Iran’s Mahan Air, which was sanctioned in 2011 for facilitating the movement of arms for the Revolutionary Guard.

“Mahan Air regularly uses the same aircraft it flies to Syria to fly commercial routes to international destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia,” Treasury said.

The US administration also targeted two British companies, Aviation Capital Solutions and Aircraft, Avionics, Parts & Support, that it claims are providing support to an Iranian airline flying weapons and soldiers to the war in Syria.

Washington has accused the private airline of transporting funds and arms for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

In a related matter, “Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism pose a continuing threat to the region, to the United States, and to our partners worldwide,” said US Treasury Official Adam Szubin in a statement.

“We will continue to use all of our tools to counteract Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism, including through sanctions.”

The Treasury’s action bans any US companies or individuals from conducting business with the blacklisted entities. It also freezes any holdings the designees have inside the US financial system.

The new measures, marking a shift toward more combative relations with Iran, came on the same day as the Department of Justice in a press conference unsealed charges against seven Iranian hackers accused of disrupting computer systems at American banks and a small dam north of New York from 2011 to 2013.

The accusation described the suspects as “experienced computer hackers” who live in Iran and may have been working on behalf of the Iranian government.

The hacking of nearly 50 banks and financial institutions from 2011 to 2013 saw the organizations lose tens of millions of dollars in remediation costs and the dam attack could have imperiled public health, prosecutors said.

The hacking suspects were employed by two private computer security companies in Iran, named as “ITSec Team” and “Mersad Co.”, that performed work on behalf of the government, including the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, the US said.

In what prosecutors called “a frightening new frontier for cybercrime,” one of the suspects allegedly hacked repeatedly into the system that controls the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, New York, less than 30 miles north of Manhattan.

The New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, American Express, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank and HSBC were among those affected, according to the indictment.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters “Online services were disrupted. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were unable to access bank accounts online. These attacks were relentless, systematic and widespread.”

“We believe they were conducted with the sole purpose of undermining the companies and damaging America’s free markets,” Lynch added.