US sanctions group of people and firms from Iran, China and Hong Kong tied to Iran ballistic program

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By FATIMA HUSSEIN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. said Tuesday it is sanctioning a group of people and firms from Iran, China and Hong Kong associated with the alleged development of Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The network of seven people and six firms “facilitated procurement of sensitive and critical parts and technology for key actors in Iran’s ballistic missile development,” including Iran’s defense ministry and its affiliated firms, according to the Treasury Department.

Among the sanctions targets are the China-based firm Zhejiang Qingji, which has allegedly sold centrifuges and other materials to an Iran-based firm affiliated with the nation’s defense ministry. Also designated for sanctions were several executives at Qingji and the Hong Kong-based Lingoe Process Engineering Limited, which Treasury said served as a front company for the Chinese firm.

Also named is Iran’s Defense Attaché in Beijing, Davoud Damghani, who is alleged to coordinate purchases from China for Iran end-users.

Among other things, the sanctions deny the people and firms access to any property or financial assets held in the U.S. and prevent U.S. companies and citizens from doing business with them.

The latest round of financial penalties comes as Iran recently claimed that it has created a hypersonic missile capable of traveling at 15 times the speed of sound, adding a new weapon to its arsenal as tensions remain high with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are also high amid months of antigovernment protests in Iran and Western anger at Iran’s export of attack drones to Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the U.S. “will continue to target illicit transnational procurement networks that covertly support Iran’s ballistic missile production and other military programs.”

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Associated Press reporter Jon Gambrell in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.

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