Sunday 05 February 2017

Will Trump's Next Iran Sanctions Target China's Banks?

Friday, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned individuals and companies in three networks for “procuring technology and/or materials to support Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

The measures are partly in reaction to Iran’s January 29 test of an intermediate-range missile.

One of the three networks, headed by Iranian businessman Abdollah Asgharzadeh, contains Chinese individuals and their companies.

CNN reports that the Trump administration is planning at least another round of Iran sanctions. Those measures could—and should—hit Chinese banks. Unplugging Chinese financial institutions will shock global markets, but measures that leave them untouched will be ineffective.

Asgharzadeh, according to Treasury, has had dealings since 2013 with three “China-based brokers,” Richard Yue, Jack Qin, and Carol Zhou. Yue works with Cosailing Business Trading Company, which provides, among other things, financial services to Asgharzadeh. Qin uses Ningbo New Century Import and Export Company to ship goods to the Iranian.

The sanctions imposed Friday on the three individuals and the two companies were initiated by the Obama administration and reflect decades-old attitudes about the best method of stopping Chinese proliferation. There are, however, two principal problems with these measures, which were designed to gently warn but not to inflict severe cost.

First, the most recent sanctions, like those in the past, were imposed on small fry. China’s small-fry individuals and entities for decades have been selling equipment, components, materials, and technology to Iran for its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Beijing maintains one of the world’s most sophisticated monitoring systems of people inside its borders, so it either knows of the activities of proliferators on its soil or decides not to know. Either way, it is at the very least complicit in proliferant activity.


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