The Donald Trump administration sanctioned an Iranian shipping line and its Chinese subsidiary today after a six-month humanitarian deferral period ended.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo first announced sanctions on Mahan Air alongside the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its Shanghai-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd (E-Sail), in December. Pompeo noted in a statement today that the Trump administration delayed the IRISL and E-Sail sanctions for six months â€œto allow exporters of humanitarian goods to Iran sufficient time to find alternate shipping methods.â€
â€œNow that this generous delay has come to an end, those in the commercial and maritime industries doing business with Iran must use carriers or shipping methods other than IRISL or E-Sail,â€ said Pompeo. If not, humanitarian exporters could run afoul of US nonproliferation sanctions on Iran.
Why it matters: While the Treasury Department maintains a formal sanctions exemption for humanitarian trade with Iran, the sanctions on E-Sail are likely to pose another obstacle to Tehranâ€™s ability to importÂ food and medicine.
Treasury Department website guidance notes that the E-Sail sanctions cover â€œagricultural commodities, food, medicine or medical devices,â€ warning that anyone who engages in humanitarian transactions risks â€œexposure to sanctions.â€
Pompeo asserted that the Iranian shipping line â€œhas repeatedly transported items related to Iranâ€™s ballistic missile and military programs and is also a longstanding carrier of other proliferation-sensitive items.â€
Whatâ€™s next: Pompeo has also threatened to pursue snapback sanctions on Iran at the United Nations unless Russia and China agree to extend the arms embargo on Tehran, which expires in October as the first sunset provision under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Know more: Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris takes a deep-dive into how Trumpâ€™s Iran sanctions regime has impacted humanitarian trade amid the coronavirus pandemic.