US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday imposed sanctions on three of his primary targets -- China, Iran and Cuba -- in a last-minute push aimed in part at boxing in President-elect Joe Biden.
Five days before he turns in his keys at the State Department, Pompeo vowed to punish China over its clampdown in Hong Kong -- a stance backed by Biden -- but moved further away from Biden's goal of easing tensions with Iran and Cuba.
Pompeo condemned as "appalling" the massive operation on January 6 in Hong Kong in which China rounded up 55 people including an American lawyer, John Clancey.
President Donald Trump's outgoing administration slapped sanctions on six people over the detentions including Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong's sole delegate to China's top lawmaking body, the National People's Congress Standing Committee.
On Friday, the Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on Cuba's interior minister, Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas, days after Pompeo said he was putting the island back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Pompeo also announced fresh actions Friday on a Chinese steel company and a UAE-based building materials firm for working with Iran Shipping Lines, which is already under US sanctions.
European powers yesterday voiced deep concern over Iran's plans to produce uranium metal, warning that Tehran has "no credible civilian use" for the element.
"The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications," said the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany in a joint statement.