SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- South Korea unveiled independent sanctions on Iran Wednesday for its contentious nuclear program suspected to be a cover for developing nuclear weapons, joining the U.S.-led campaign to punish the country.
Seoul blacklisted 102 entities and 24 individuals believed to be involved in Tehran's nuclear activities, and decided impose a " severe penalty" on the Seoul branch of Bank Mellat, the only Iranian bank in the country suspected of illicit financial transactions aiding the nuclear program.
Fifteen Iranian banks, including Bank Mellat, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), have been blacklisted. CISCO Shipping Company and Iran Petrochemical Commercial Company are among other Iranian entities that made their names in Seoul's bad books.
Under Seoul's sanctions, adopted in addition to U.N. sanctions over Tehran's uranium enrichment program that some say is a cover for developing nuclear weapons, all financial institutions here will have to report to the South Korean authorities or gain prior permission if they are to engage in financial transactions worth more than 10,000 Euros with Iran.
Seoul will also step up Iran-related cargo inspections, put blacklisted entities and individuals on travel ban list and limit the country's investment into Iran's gas and oil refinery industries.
The independent sanctions, announced jointly by South Korea's foreign ministry, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) and the finance ministry, came after the United States ramped up its efforts to push Seoul to join its campaign to foil Iran's alleged nuclear ambition.
Robert Einhorn, the State Department's special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, visited Seoul in August to press the issue. Officials from Tehran, denying the charge and claiming its nuclear activities are all for peaceful purposes, threatened countermeasures.
Concerns linger over financial damage the independent sanctions might bring about. Seoul relies on Tehran, the biggest trade partner in the Middle East, for 10 percent of its crude oil imports. Some 2,000 small and mid-sized enterprises have tapped into the fast-growing Iranian market.
The European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan have announced separate sanctions against Iran.