US sanctions ‘key actors’ in Iran’s oil sector

The US has imposed fresh sanctions against the Iranian oil sector, for their “financial support” to Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), according to the Treasury Department.

In a statement on Monday, the Department that said its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed the sanctions against the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).

The Department has claimed that senior NIOC and NITC personnel “worked closely with Rostam Ghasemi, a senior IRGC-QF official and former Minister of Petroleum who was designated in 2019”.

It added that Ghasemi has assumed a portion of late Commander Qasem Soleimani’s role in “facilitating shipments of oil and petroleum products for the financial benefit of the IRGC-QF”.

Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike on January 3 near the Baghdad airport, which further escalated tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Sanctions have been also imposed on “entities and individuals associated with the Ministry of Petroleum, NIOC, and NITC, including front companies, subsidiaries, and senior executives, as well as four persons involved in the recent sale of Iranian gasoline to the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela”, the Department said in the statement.

“The regime in Iran uses the petroleum sector to fund the destabilizing activities of the IRGC-QF,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its support for terrorist entities and its nuclear program over the needs of the Iranian people,” he added.

These latest sanctions came days after President Donald Trump’s administration blacklisted Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, whom the US claimed was “acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF”.

Responding to Monday’s development, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “time for the US to finally admit it is a #SanctionAddict”.

Kick the habit. More economic warfare against Iran will bring the US less-and not more-influence,” he added.