Pompeo informed that the designated companies include the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping. OFAC also designated three Mahan Air general sales agents (GSA) based in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong over alleged proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
It was reported that the three sanctioned Iranian companies helped Iran import items for its weapons of mass destruction programs. Additionally, the US also blacklisted a shipping network that illegally transmits weapons from Iran to Yemen to support the Qods Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Concerning IRISL, Mike Pompeo commented that
IRISL’s WMD designation was lifted in January 2016 under the JCPOA, and that was an enormous mistake. Since then, that entity has knowingly engaged in activities and transactions that materially contribute to Iran’s proliferation of WMDs.
The US Treasury condemned IRISL for using falsified documents and other deceptive tactics to secretly ship equipment for Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) and Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG)—entities that operate Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Following the sanctions, Pompeo highlighted that to provide exporters of humanitarian goods time to adapt to alternative shipping methods, the designation will come into force in 180 days - on June 8th 2020.
OFAC Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin addressed that
The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen. Aviation and shipping industries should be vigilant and not allow their industries to be exploited by terrorists.
Moreover, OFAC also designated Iranian businessman Abdolhossein Khedri, who has been involved in shipping operations for the IRGC-QF, using his companies, Khedri Jahan Darya Co. and Maritime Silk Road LLC, as well as vessels owned by Khedri Jahan Darya Co., to support the IRGC-QF’s smuggling operations.
The last months Trump's Administration is targeting many shipping companies who are either conducting illegal bunkering activities or have been illegally transmitting weapons. For instance, on Wednesday, September 25, the U.S. imposed sanctions on six Chinese companies, amongst which were COSCO Companies, as well, resulting to one third of the tankers belonging to COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) shuting off their AIS systems.