WASHINGTON - The United States has imposed sanctions on seven Pakistani entities allegedly linked to Pakistan's missile programme for ‘acting contrary’ to American national security interests, according to an official notification.

But the notification, which was issued by the US Department of Commerce, did not specify the activities of the Pakistani entities for which the sanctions were invoked.

The entities include Islamabad-based National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), which is reportedly involved in several defence development programmes, and three of its subsidiaries, Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Maritime Technology Complex (MTC) and New Auto Engineering (NAE).

The move came as the Obama administration, in an aggressive diplomatic move, expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the cyber attacks issue.

The December 15 notification said there was “reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts,” that these entities “have been involved in actions contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”. The Pakistan embassy gave no immediate comments, but in the past has denied any wrongdoing when similar sanctions were imposed by the US on its nuclear and defence programmes.

The Pakistani organizations were added to the US Entity List, identifies entities and individuals “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests” of the US. The list of sanctioned entities includes several other countries.

The sanctioned entities also are subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which impose “additional license requirements on, and limits the availability, of most license exceptions for exports”.

Besides NESCOM, the other sanctioned entities are Air Weapons Complex (AWC) at Wah Cantonment, Maritime Technology Complex (MTC) of Karachi, New Auto Engineering (NAE) of Rawalpindi, Ahad International of Lahore, Engineering Solutions Pvt Ltd of Islamabad and Universal Tooling Services with offices in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Taxila.

The conduct of these seven entities "raises sufficient concern that prior review of exports, re-exports or transfers (in-country) of items subject to the EAR involving these persons, and the possible imposition of licence conditions or licence denials on shipments to the persons, will enhance (the department's) ability to prevent violations of the EAR".

The licence requirements apply to any transaction in which items are to be exported, re-exported, or transferred (in-country) to any of the entities or in which such entities act as purchaser, intermediate consignee, ultimate consignee, or end-user.

In addition, no license exceptions are available for exports, re-exports, or transfers (in-country) to the persons being added to the entity list in this rule.

The restrictions will also apply to acronym used by these entities to help exporters, re-exporters and transferors.