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U.S. Identifies Dozens Of Front Companies Helping Iran Evade Sanctions

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WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The United States identified dozens of Iranian front companies, ships and banks on Thursday that it said were helping Tehran evade Western sanctions aimed at stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Treasury identified Noor Energy, Petro Suisse, Petro Energy and Hong Kong Intertrade as front companies for the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and other blacklisted Iranian entities. Treasury also, for the first time, identified the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) as a government-controlled entity and its fleet and various front companies as belonging to NITC.

Treasury said the identifications would help companies comply with Western penalties against Iran and undermine its attempts to use the front companies or renamed vessels to evade sanctions.

The latest penalties from the U.S. Treasury come after the Obama administration mounted an international campaign aimed at depriving Iran of revenue needed to fund its nuclear program, which Iran maintains is for peaceful purposes.

The European Union banned Iranian oil imports as well as providing insurance for vessels carrying Iranian oil July 1. The U.S. sanctions have limited Iran's major trading partners from buying Iranian crude. (Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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