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U.S. sanctions Iran-linked group over chemical weapons

Dec. 3 (UPI) — The Trump administration on Thursday sanctioned an Iranian chemical engineering and research group along with its director over accusations of participating in Tehran’s chemical weapons program.

The U.S. Treasury and State Department on Thursday announced they have designated Shahid Meisami Group and its director, Mehran Babri, under a 2005 executive order that freezes the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the group was being targeted as it is controlled by the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which the United States designated under the same executive order in 2014.

“As a part of SPND, Shahid Meisami Group engaged in activities raising concerns regarding Iran’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, including SPND projects for which it was responsible involving the testing and production of chemical agents for use as so-called incapacitation agents,” Pompeo said. “Babri was being designated today for acting on behalf of Shahid Meisami Group.”

The Treasury explained the group has been responsible for numerous SPND projects worth millions of dollars, including the testing and producing of chemical agents and optimizing them for effectiveness and toxicity for use as incapacitation agents.

“Iran’s development of weapons of mass destruction is a threat to the security of its neighbors and the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will continue to counter any efforts by the Iranian regime to develop weapons that may be used by the regime or its proxy groups to advance their malign agenda.”

The sanctions enforced Thursday also bar U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

The move is part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign to compel Tehran to negotiate a revised agreement to limit its nuclear program following President Donald Trump in May 2018 ending the United States’ participation in the President Barack Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action accord.

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