U.S. Sanctions Another Chinese Shipping Firm for Trading with Iran

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Published Jan 13, 2020 8:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Treasury has added one more Chinese vessel and a Shanghai-based ship operator to its sanctions blacklist, part of a wider set of new American penalties targeting the Iranian government in the wake of the missile attack on American forces last week. 

“The United States is targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement and complicity in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strikes,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement. “We are also designating Iran’s largest metals manufacturers, and imposing sanctions on new sectors of the Iranian economy including construction, manufacturing, and mining. These sanctions will continue until the regime stops the funding of global terrorism and commits to never having nuclear weapons.”  

The new sanctions designations include the vessel Hong Xun, a 35,000 dwt bulker, along with her former owner and operator, Hongyuan Marine Co. (Equasis records show that the Hong Xun is currently operated by Xunyuan Ship Management Co., a company that shares the same address as Hongyuan Marine Co.) 

According to the Treasury, in September 2019 the Hong Xun transported steel slabs purchased by Pamchel Trading Beijing Co. Ltd. from Iranian metals firm Esfahan Mobarakeh Steel Company. The Hong Xun allegedly delivered the consignment from Bandar Abbas to China. Pamchel Trading Beijing stands accused of supplying graphite electrode rods to Iranian firm Kalagh Tadbir Pars, using a front company in the Seychelles to obscure the real customer for its shipments; in addition, Pamchel Trading allegedly purchased tens of thousands of metric tons of steel slabs per month from Esfahan Mobarakeh Steel.

"It is the policy of the United States to deny the Iranian government revenues, including revenues derived from the export of products from key sectors of Iran's economy, that may be used to fund and support its nuclear program, missile development, terrorism and terrorist proxy networks, and  malign regional influence," said President Donald Trump in a statement.

In general, most trade with Iran is already prohibited under the existing U.S. sanctions regime, which bans dollar-denominated financial transactions with Iranian banking institutions. Several sectors - notably oil, shipping, shipbuilding and ports - have additional specific prohibitions.  

Last September, the U.S. sanctioned Chinese oil shipping giant COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) for allegedly transporting Iranian crude. That action affected about 50 large tankers, creating considerable uncertainty in the shipping market as traders scrambled to find replacement vessels for their cargoes. In response to pressure from affected shippers, the U.S. Treasury instituted a wind-down period for pre-existing business with COSCO Dalian, valid through February 4.