The U.S. Treasury on Monday announced sanctions on a Malaysian travel agent for Iranian airline Mahan Air, which Washington has blacklisted as a backer of terrorism.
The Treasury Department said all transactions within U.S. jurisdiction involving assets of Malaysian-based Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn. Bhd. would be “blocked” as a result of the sanctions.
American authorities have accused Mahan Air of aiding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Qods Force in ferrying weapons and personnel around the Middle East.
“Mahan Air is the airline of choice for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, facilitating its support to terrorism across the Middle East,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said.
“Mahan’s regular flights to Syria are used to prop up the Assad regime and deliver weapons, foreign fighters, and Iranian operatives who sow violence and unrest across the region,” he said in a statement announcing the sanctions on the Malaysian entity. He was referring to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd, which has served Mahan Air for at least eight years, is Mahan Air’s sole travel agent in Malaysia, and provides reservation and ticketing services for the Iranian airline.
“This action serves notice to the aviation community of the sanctions risk for individuals and entities maintaining commercial relationships with Mahan Air and other designated Iranian airlines,” the Treasury statement said.
It warned those operating in the civil aviation industry to “implement appropriate controls to ensure compliance with legal requirements and sanctions.”
“Today’s action demonstrates the U.S. Government’s continued commitment to enforcing existing sanctions and to targeting those that provide support to terrorism.”
The United States plans to restore financial sanctions and other punitive measures in August following its decision to withdraw from a 2015 deal that lifted most sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear work.
Last week, the Trump administration warned countries to stop their imports of Iranian oil by early November.
Malaysia and Iran generally have good relations.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a telephone call last month on his coalition’s landmark victory in elections that toppled the United Malays National Organization (UMNO)-led bloc, which had ruled the country since independence in 1957.
Rouhani called for an expansion of bilateral ties in his talks with the new Malaysian leader, reports said.
Mahathir had declared after his election victory that Malaysia, as a trading nation, would maintain good relations with all nations without favoring any particular one or interfering with its domestic policies, system and governance, Malaysia’s national news agency reported.
He also stressed that Malaysia would take a “neutral” stance without taking part in any moves by big powers to impose sanctions against countries which disagreed with them, according to Bernama.
“But of course, we are aware of big powers who want to impose sanctions on countries which do not respect or agree with them,” he said, without singling out any country.