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US slaps sanctions on Iranian, Chinese targets over Tehran’s missile, military programs

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By Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States imposed sanctions on Tuesday on more than a dozen people and entities in China, Hong Kong and Iran, including Iran’s defense attache in Beijing, over accusations they helped procure parts and technology for key actors in Iran’s ballistic missile development.

Earlier on Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency reported Iran had presented what officials described as its first domestically made hypersonic ballistic missile, an announcement likely to heighten Western concerns about Tehran’s missile capabilities.

“The United States will continue to target illicit transnational procurement networks that covertly support Iran’s ballistic missile production and other military programs,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.

Washington has imposed extensive sanctions on Iran over the years, including over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and accusations of human rights abuse.

The Treasury statement accused Iran’s defense attache in Beijing, Davoud Damghani, of coordinating military-related procurements from China for Iranian end-users, including subsidiaries of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

Washington targeted centrifuge sales to Parchin Chemical Industries (PCI), dual-use metals sales to its intermediary, P.B. Sadr, and MODAFL’s electronics procurement in Tuesday’s action, according to the statement. Both PCI and P.B. Sadr were previously hit with sanctions by the United States.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York and China’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China and Iran in March 2021 signed a 25-year cooperation agreement to strengthen their longstanding economic and political alliance. China has been a major buyer of Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions designed to choke off these exports.

Among those targeted were China-based Zhejiang Qingji Ind Co, Ltd, which the Treasury accused of selling centrifuges and other equipment and services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to PCI with P.B. Sadr as an intermediary.

Also among those sanctioned were Hong Kong Ke.Do International Trade Co., Limited and China-based Qingdao Zhongrongtong Trade Development Co, Ltd, which the Treasury accused of engaging in the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of dual-use, nonferrous metals to P.B. Sadr.

Zhejiang Qingji did not immediately respond to a request for comment. P.B. Sadr and PCI, as well as the other companies, could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Arshad Mohammed and David Brunnstrom; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Mark Heinrich and Howard Goller)

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