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Published: Thursday December 12, 2013 MYT 10:55:01 PM
Updated: Thursday December 12, 2013 MYT 10:56:04 PM

U.S. targets more groups over Iran's nuclear program

Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the U.S. Treasury Department David Cohen testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the U.S. Treasury Department David Cohen testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday black-listed a number of additional companies and people under sanctions aimed at Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said in a statement.

Treasury and State Department officials said the move shows the recent agreement reached in Geneva over Iran "does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran's nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions."

The move comes as some U.S. MPs push to impose further sanctions on Iran. But the Obama administration has so far persuaded them to hold off, saying further action could harm ongoing talks with Iran.

It is the first such enforcement action since the United States and other nations reached a first step agreement with Iran in Geneva last month.

"We will continue relentlessly to enforce our sanctions, even as we explore the possibility of a long-term, comprehensive resolution of our concerns with Iran's nuclear program," said David Cohen, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Administration officials said Thursday's action targeted entities that are involved in the proliferation of materials for weapons of mass destruction and have tried to evade the current sanctions.

Officials said Thursday's targets include companies and individuals engaged in transactions on behalf of other companies that the United States has also previously designated under the sanctions. They include Mid Oil Asia, Singa Tankers, Siqiriya Maritime, Ferland Company Limited and Vitaly Sokolenko.

The U.S. also named five Iranian entities it said are directly engaged in actions contributing to Iran's ability to enrich uranium.

Several other entities related to Iran's ballistic missile program were also targeted.

Treasury's Cohen, along with State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, are set to appear before a Senate hearing about the Geneva deal later on Thursday.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Krista Hughes)

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