Economy

US solidifies Iran oil sanctions

By AFP

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Defence Secretary Mark Esper attend a news conference to announce the Trump administration's restoration of sanctions on Iran, on September 21st, at the US State Department in Washington, DC. [Patrick Semansky/AFP]

The US on Monday (October 26th) slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's oil sector including over sales to Syria and Venezuela.

President Donald Trump's administration has since 2018 enforced sweeping sanctions aimed at ending all of Iran's key oil exports, seeking to choke off all cash sources for the Islamic Republic and end its destructive interference in the region.

Under the new measures, the administration designated the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran's petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company under a counter-terrorism authority.

The Treasury Department issued the sanctions by linking the three entities to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force (IRGC-QF) -- which was earlier designated as a terrorist organisation by the US and whose commander, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US attack at Baghdad airport in January.

The department also penalised multiple front companies, subsidiaries and executives affiliated with those organisations, including Iran's petroleum minister, Bijan Zanganeh.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the sanctions should send a warning to "the few remaining buyers of Iranian crude oil".

"These designations are an important step in the maximum pressure campaign to limit the Iranian regime's ability to threaten its neighbours and destabilise the Middle East," Pompeo said in a statement.

The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on a British-based Iranian businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, and related companies for transactions with Venezuela.

The Treasury Department accused him of arranging the shipment of tens of thousands of metric tonnes of gasoline to Venezuela, whose leader Nicolas Maduro has recently stepped up economic ties with Iran.

Earlier this month, the administration took another major step to cripple the Iranian economy by imposing sanctions on the nation's banks -- making most transactions with the outside world difficult.

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