The United States said on Tuesday it has placed a network of Russian and Iranian companies on an international blacklist for shipping oil to Syria in violation of US sanctions.

Iran press/ America: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO'-shin) said in announcing the names Tuesday that the nine firms and people being added to the list are "critical actors" in a scheme to support Assad.

Those added to the list include a Syrian national and his Russia-based company along with a subsidiary of the Russian Energy Ministry.

On October 16, the US Treasury announced fresh sanctions on Iran, targeting Bank Mellat and Mehr Eqtesad Bank and some other Iranian banks and financial institutions.

The United States is also imposing sanctions on Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, Esfehan’s Mobarakeh Steel Company, and other companies linked to investment, commodities and engineering, according to an announcement on the US Treasury's website.

The Trump administration hopes re-imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic will force its leaders back to the negotiating table to agree on a new, broader pact that would constrain not only its nuclear program but also Iran's activities in the Middle East and its development of ballistic missiles.

Besides sanctions, Trump administration is pursuing regime change in Iran. Referring to riots in some cities in Iran in early 2018, Pompeo claimed that Iranians are not happy and US want them to have a strong voice in who their leadership will be.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August, talked about a "maximum pressure campaign" targeting Iran that will support protests in Iran.

Pompeo along with US national security adviser, John Bolton has been a vocal critic of the Iran and the internationally negotiated Iran nuclear deal of 2015 and advocated immediate regime change.

On May 8, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of a nuclear deal struck by Iran and six world powers known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of sanctions.

The US president also reinstated the sanctions already lifted under the JCPOA and vowed to impose the highest level of economic ban on Iran. The second round of US sanctions against Iran targeting Iranian oil exports, shipping, aviation industry and banking affairs went into effect on 5 November. 208/103

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