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2006 Friday 04 August

U.S. targets 7 companies over Iran

Associated Press

The Bush administration has imposed sanctions against seven foreign companies, including two from India and two from Russia, for business dealings with Iran involving sensitive technology, according to an announcement Friday.

Also subject to sanctions were two companies from North Korea and one from Cuba. All seven were found to be in violation of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000.

The announcement in the Federal Register, which reports on official actions by the U.S. government, said the two Indian companies were Balaji Amines Ltd. and Prachi Poly Products Ltd., both chemical manufacturers.

The Russian companies were Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi. Also sanctioned were Korean Mining and Industrial Development Corp. and Korea Pugang Trading Corp., both North Korean.

The Cuban company was the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

Under the sanctions, U.S. government dealings with any of the seven are prohibited.

The State Department had no immediate comment on the sanctions.

Rep. Ed Markey received word of the planned sanctions against the Indian companies weeks ago and said the alleged violation raised questions about the groundbreaking U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear technology deal.

The purported actions by the firms indicate that "India is unable to fully police bad actors in its jurisdiction from helping Iran, which has been arming terrorists like Hezbollah and repeatedly threatening the Middle East and the United States," Markey said in a statement last week.

He criticized the administration for not disclosing the activities of the firms before House of Representatives approved the nuclear pact last month. The list of sanctioned parties was weeks overdue, but State Department officials insisted the delay had nothing to do with the vote on the nuclear deal.

The list was turned over to the House International Relations Committee a day after the vote.

Reacting to the sanctions against the two Russian firms, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "We don't consider the actions of the U.S. State Department to be acceptable."

A ministry statement, according to an unofficial translation, said the United States should not apply domestic legislation against foreign companies. It described the U.S. action as a "political and legal anachronism."

It insisted that Russian companies carrying out military-technical cooperation with foreign countries act in "strict conformity with the norms of international law and Russian legislation."

This includes "Russian obligations in the sphere of nonproliferation and export controls," the statement said.

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