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US Treasury announces sanctions on Iran's metal producers after missile strikes

The U.S. followed through on its threat of fresh sanctions against Iran after military tensions between the two countries in recent days, targeting several Iranian government officials and the nation's metals industry and other economic sectors.

The Treasury Department designated 17 Iranian metals producers and mining companies, along with three other entities based in China and the Seychelles which the agency believes are helping Tehran conduct trade in metals.

In addition, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order aiming to restrict alleged funding sources for Iran's nuclear program and military activities in the Middle East. The executive order will also authorize the government to impose sanctions on persons doing business with Iran's construction, mining, manufacturing and textiles industries.

The Treasury department specifically targeted the 13 largest Iranian steel and iron manufacturers, including Esfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Co., the largest steel producer in the Middle East and the world's biggest producer of direct reduced iron. It also designated Saba Steel, Hormozgan Steel Co., Esfahan Steel Company P J S C, Oxin Steel Co., Khorasan Steel Complex Co., South Kaveh Steel Co., Iran Alloy Steel Co., Golgohar Mining and Industrial Co., Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Co., Arfa Iron and Steel Co., Khouzestan Steel Co. and Iranian Ghadir Iron & Steel Co.

Iranian aluminum and copper producers were also among the companies designated. These include Iranian Aluminium Co. which accounts for approximately 75% of Iran's total aluminum output, Al-Mahdi Aluminum Corp., and National Iranian Copper, the largest copper producer in the Middle East and North Africa.

Foreign companies designated by the Treasury department include Oman-based Reputable Trading Source LLC, which is controlled by Iran's Khouzestan Steel Co.; Pamchel Trading Beijing Co. Ltd. and its local partner Khalagh Tadbir Pars Co.; Seychelles-based Power Anchor Ltd.; and Chinese shipping company Hongyuan Marine Co. Ltd., owner of the Hong Xun vessel which the U.S. has listed as blocked property.

"These sanctions will continue until the regime stops the funding of global terrorism and commits to never having nuclear weapons," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. Aside from Iran's metals and mining industry, the U.S. is imposing sanctions on eight senior Iranian government officials, some of whom hold key positions in the military.

In a televised address on Jan. 9, a day after Iran conducted missile strikes on two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, Trump announced new economic sanctions against Iran, vowing to maintain pressure until the leadership in Tehran "changes its behavior" and halted its nuclear ambitions.

The Iranian missile attack was a retaliation for a U.S. airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran's elite clandestine Quds Force, on Jan. 3.