The United States has sanctioned Iran’s biggest oil company because of its links to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), a designated terrorist group. Tehran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) and its 39 subsidiaries have been providing “financial lifelines to the IRGC,” the U.S. Treasury Department said.

“By targeting this network we intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran’s petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.  In April, the Treasury Department designated Iran’s 100,000-strong Islamic Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization, tightening the noose on regime’s foreign terrorist network. The state-owned petrochemical holding group is responsible for at least half of all oil and gas exports from Iran.

The latest round of sanctions are a big blow to the European countries, mainly Germany, the United Kingdom and France, trying to set up a new payment mechanism to procure Iranian oil. The EU-backed payment system, called Instex, will be based on barter transaction which does away with the incriminating money trail and thus shields the sanction-busting European firms from prosecution under U.S. law. The Treasury Department warned that foreign companies caught dealing with the PGPIC subsidiaries or their sales agents “will themselves be exposed to US sanctions.”

The news agency Reuters reported the details of the latest round of sanctions:

Friday’s sanctions targeted the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) for providing financial support to the economic arm of the IRGC, a military organization in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Iran’s oil ministry last year awarded Khatam al-Anbiya, the IRGC’s economic and engineering arm, 10 projects in the oil and petrochemical industries worth $22 billion, four times the official budget of the IRGC.

The new sanctions come as the Trump administration seeks to increase economic and military pressure against Iran both because of its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. (…)

The Treasury said it had also sanctioned the PGPIC holding group’s network of 39 subsidiary petrochemical companies and foreign-based sales agents. PGPIC and its units have 40% of Iran’s petrochemical production capacity and account for 50% of Iran’s petrochemical exports, it said.

The Treasury Department’s announcement coincides with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh admission that Tehran was secretly selling oil to international buyers. The regime was using “unconventional” means to circumvent U.S. sanctions, he disclosed.

The Trump administration, as part of its “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran, has stopped all the waivers on oil purchases that had previously been granted to Iran’s major oil importers. As a result, country’s oil shipments have tumbled drastically cutting regime’s chief source of revenue.

Radio France Internationale reported Iranian minister’s statement:

Iran is keeping up oil sales through “unconventional” means to circumvent US sanctions, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in an interview published Saturday.

“We have unofficial or unconventional sales, all of which are secret, because if they are made known America would immediately stop them,” he said, quoted by the oil ministry’s SHANA news agency.

Zanganeh declined to give details on Iran’s oil exports, saying he would not disclose figures until sanctions were lifted.

Having received billions of dollar under the Obama administration for signing the 2015 nuclear deal, the regime is looking at European countries to compensate for the missing financial perks. With foreign buyers cutting oil import and Iran’s currency in free fall, Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for the Europeans to restore the old benefits promised under the Obama-era deal.

Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to flood Europe with drugs and refugees if Germany, France, and the UK fail to rescue regime’s failing economy. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government was the first Western power to cave to the Iranian intimidation. German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, heads to Iran tomorrow in a desperate attempt to appease the Mullahs.

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[Cover image via YouTube]

 
 
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