US blacklists new companies under Iran sanctions

Updated: 2013-12-14 11:51


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WASHINGTON -- The White House on Friday defended the move of blacklisting additional companies and people under existing sanctions, saying it does not violate an interim nuclear agreement reached between world powers and Iran last month.

The statement came one day after the United States targeted additional entities that are suspected of evading earlier sanctions against Iran and supporting its nuclear program. Iran criticized the measure as "unconstructive and not in line with the Geneva deal."

"Some groups both inside and outside of the US government want to kill the Geneva deal," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Friday.

In a response, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the blacklist move represented actions based on existing sanctions, adding that the Obama administration is committed to refraining from any new nuclear-related sanctions.

Separately, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Washington had given Iran "notification that these new designations would be occurring," and didn't believe the move would derail its nuclear talks with Iran.

"We would continue to enforce existing sanctions, including by designating additional entities or individuals under them," she said at a press conference.

Iran's expert-level nuclear negotiating team halted talks with the representatives of world powers in Vienna to return home for further consultations. The talks, which started on Monday, were designed to work out the details of the landmark November deal.

The P5+1 group, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany, struck a deal with Iran in Geneva on November 24, in which Iran agreed to freeze part of its nuclear program in exchange for limited ease of sanctions which have hurt its economy.

At Friday's press conference, Harf also asked the Iranian government to undertake humanitarian efforts to safely return and reunite Bob Levinson with his family.

Media reports said Levinson, who disappeared in March 2007 when he was visiting Iran, was working for the CIA on an unapproved mission.

The United States had raised this issue with Iran on the sidelines of the nuclear talks, Harf said.