The United States government says the Armenian businesses in question collaborated with Iran – a claim which the companies themselves reject
The US Department of Commerce will impose sanctions on Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute (YETRI) and the company.
The U.S. Department of Commerce claims YETRI received and re-exported goods included on the US Bureau of Industry and Security’s Commerce Control List (CCL) without the necessary licenses.
If the product is listed on the CCL, a license must be obtained, given that the import and export of these goods is regulated by the state.
The head of these two companies is also conducting business with an Iranian company on the US’ blacklist, which includes companies that ‘threaten or oppose’ US national security.
The US began actively imposing sanctions on companies cooperating with Iran after Donald Trump’s election.
Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal back in May 2018, which led to increased tensions between the two countries.
Joint-stock companies YETRI and Markel are interconnected institutions, are headed by Mher Markosyan, who says the situation is a ‘misunderstanding.’
Markosyan says that neither of the institutions conducted trade with Iranian companies:
“We have never had a trade relationship with any Iranian company. We didn’t sell anything to Iran. The two institutions that were sanctioned have different objectives. We hope that this will be resolved soon.”
The institute designs and builds radio equipment.
These products are exported to European countries, China and the US. Due to the sanctions, the two companies are not only unable to trade with the US, but are also banned from purchasing parts from them.
Mher Markosyan says that though this will complicate the work of the companies, they will both continue their work:
“We’ll purchase parts from other countries. They may be a little more expensive, but it’s not a big deal. We’ll sell our products in other countries.”
Nevertheless, the director plans to appeal to the US Ambassador to Armenia to help remedy the situation.
Not the first time
This is not the first time Armenian companies have been sanctioned by the US.
Two other Armenian commercial organisations were earlier put on the US blacklist for cooperating with Iranian institutions back in January 2019.
US expert Suren Sargsyan explained to JAMnews: it is not only Iranian, but also Russian companies that could be a ‘hidden’ threat to Armenian businesses:
“Hundreds of Russian companies and individuals fell under US sanctions. If Armenian companies start working with them, they will also end up on the blacklist, as the same goes for Iranian companies.”
Experts say that the sanctions may lead to company bank accounts being frozen and may prohibit them from making international transactions.