- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Trump administration hit two Iranian-linked business networks with sanctions Wednesday for illegally helping Iran’s missile and weapons programs, a day after Tehran called on the U.S. to lift all sanctions as a condition for new nuclear talks.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted two Iranian nationals, Hamed Dehghan and Hadi Dehghan, for “engaging in covert procurement activities benefitting multiple Iranian military organizations.”

Treasury’s action freezes any U.S. assets of the individuals and their business networks.

Treasury said Hamed Dehghan has used a Hong Kong-based front company to evade U.S. and international sanctions and “facilitate tens of millions of dollars’ worth of proliferation activities targeting U.S. technology and components” for individuals connected with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian regime. A second network, led by Seyed Hossein Shariat, has procured aluminum alloy products for entities controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Treasury said in a statement.

“As the Iranian regime attempts to use complex schemes to hide its efforts to bolster its WMD program, the U.S. government will continue to thwart them at every turn,” said Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker. “We urge governments worldwide to recognize the extraordinary lengths to which the regime in Tehran will go to conceal its behavior, and to ensure that their companies and financial institutions are not facilitating Iran’s proliferation activities.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the U.S. must lift all sanctions against Iran before he’d discuss a new nuclear agreement with President Trump. He was responding to an overture from French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr. Trump, who said he’d be willing to meet with Mr. Rouhani within the next few weeks.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Wednesday that the president is “always willing to talk to people.”

“But sanctions are not going to be lifted at this time because we have to make sure they come to the table understanding their economy is crippling,” he told Fox News.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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