The Biden administration has unveiled a sanctions blacklist of two dozen companies and other entities accused of supporting Russia militarily, as well as who have violated sanctions on Iran. But perhaps most surprising is that among the 24 companies also includes entities charged with illicit activities related to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.
The US Commerce Department identified companies based in Latvia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore and Switzerland, including Russia's AO Kraftway Corporation, considered among the country's largest IT companies.
Fiber Optic Solutions in Latvia is named as well as Russian AO Scientific Research Center for Electronic Computing, LLC Fibersense, and Scientific Production Company Optolin, AO PKK Milandr; Milandr EK; Milandr ICC JSC; Milur IS; Microelectronic Production Complex (MPK) Milandr; and Ruselectronics JSC and Swiss based Milur SA, according to a press release.
Regarding the Iran-related sanctions, "The Commerce Department also added four trading and supply companies in Singapore for supplying or attempting to supply an Iranian electronics company, Pardazan System Namad Arman," which as Reuters recounts was initially subject of US Treasury sanctions in 2018 following the Trump administration's pullout of the Iran nuclear deal.
While over the past many months sanctions on Russia and Iran have become a normative thing in Washington, the Pakistan-related development is what's most interesting. As Reuters explains:
The Biden administration also added 10 companies in Pakistan and UAE that it says pose unacceptable risks of using or diverting items for Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear activities or are involved Pakistan’s "nuclear activities and missile proliferation-related activities."
Pakistan, it must be remembered, is a nuclear-armed ally of Washington, but one which has always made US officials incredibly nervous given the alarming possibility of nukes 'falling into the wrong hands'. Of course some of the world's most notorious Islamic terror groups have had a significant presence inside Pakistan and especially along the Af-Pak border for decades.
Following the Taliban reconquering of Kabul in the wake of the US pullout from the country, the Brookings Institution warned of the following:
The president will not have to look too far. Bordering Afghanistan, now again under Taliban rule, is Pakistan, one of America’s oddest “allies.” Governed by a shaky coalition of ineffective politicians and trained military leaders trying desperately to contain the challenge of domestic terrorism, Pakistan may be the best definition yet of a highly combustible threat that, if left unchecked, might lead to the nightmare of nightmares: jihadis taking control of a nuclear weapons arsenal of something in the neighborhood of 200 warheads.
Wednesday's fresh US Commerce sanctions apparently have the above unpredictable nature of the Pakistani political and security landscape still fresh in mind. Currently Pakistan has the sixth largest nuclear arsenal in the world.