A top U.S. sanctions official is in Asia to push efforts to increase pressure on Iran, saying Washington was intent on making Tehran "radioactive to the international community."
Sigal Mandelker, the U.S. Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in Singapore on March 29 that she would stress in further meetings this week with officials in Malaysia, Singapore, and India the risks involved in dealing with Tehran.
"It's very important that these countries have important visibility into the different ways the Iranian regime uses to deceive the international community in connection with shipment of oil," she said.
The U.S. administration has a stated goal of reducing Iranian oil exports to zero by demanding importers reduce purchases or face U.S. sanctions. Washington has granted short-term waivers to several countries to continue buying energy products from Tehran to avoid disrupting their own economies.
"This trip follows on the heels of additional intense pressure we have placed on Iran. In just the last week, we took action against nuclear scientists and agencies and other key personnel involved with the Iranian regime's past nuclear weapons entities," Mandelker said.
"We are making them radioactive to the international community."
Washington on March 26 announced it had disrupted what it calls a “large-scale front company network” that has transferred more than $1 billion to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian Defense Ministry in violation of U.S. sanctions.
It also announced fresh sanctions against 25 individuals and entities it said are part of the network -- including “front companies” based in Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.
Mandelker, who met with Singapore central bank officials on March 29, said she will meet with Singapore's home, finance, and trade ministries on March 30.
Mandelker made similar remarks before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services on March 12, warning European allies about the risks of doing business with Iran, including the use of a special-purpose vehicle that allows trade with Tehran but avoids violating U.S. sanctions.
The administration of President Donald Trump has pressed hard against what it calls “malign” activities of Tehran in the Middle East, including alleged support for extremist violence, testing of ballistic and nuclear weapons, and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran denies it funds terrorists and says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.
Trump last year pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear accord that provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program and began reimposing sanctions.