YEREVAN — The US Department of Commerce said its Bureau of Industry and Security has placed two Armenian companies in the list of companies which are subject to US sanctions.

The Yerevan Telecommunications Research Institute (YETRI) and the Markel company are among 17 Canadian, Russian, Georgian and other firms blacklisted by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. They will now be banned from purchasing U.S. products.

The agency explained that YETRI has been sanctioned because it had obtained unspecified sensitive items and re-exported them without BIS licenses. “And the person who is both Executive Director of YETRI and President of Markel has been engaged in a business relationship with a sanctioned Iranian organization,” its statement added without elaborating.

Novosti-Armenia news agency contacted the executive director of the Yerevan Telecommunications Research Institute Mher Markosyan, who refrained from comments, saying only that the company is preparing an official statement on this issue. He insisted that YETRI has never sold any equipment to Iranian firms.

“As for Markel, it had signed contracts and done business with Iranian enterprises until 2009,” Markosyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “It hasn’t signed any further contracts since 2009.”

“Any export operation, especially to Iran, is examined under the microscope,” he went on. “If there is even a slight suspicion [of wrongdoing] rest assured that the [Armenian] state will not permit it. Knowing all this, we have never gone down that path.”

Markosyan also said that officials from the U.S. State Department have regularly visited and inspected his companies designing telecommunication equipment. “They praised and told us to keep up the good work,” he claimed.

Markosyan added that he will therefore appeal to the U.S. Embassy in Armenia to help lift the sanctions.

The Armenian Ministry of Economy said, meanwhile, that it is looking into the U.S. announcement and will comment later on.

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