U.S. Blacklists Iran Oil Shipping Network Over Alleged Syria Sanctions Breach
By RFE/RL September 04, 2019
The United States has imposed sanctions on an Iranian network of companies, ships, and individuals it says has supplied Syria with millions of barrels of oil in a breach of U.S. sanctions.
The network is "directed by and financially supports" the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) foreign arm, the Qods Force, and the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia movement Hizballah, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement on September 4.
The department said the Qods Force and Hizballah profited financially by supplying Iranian oil and petroleum products, mostly to Syria.
In spring alone, the network "employed more than a dozen vessels to transport nearly 10 million barrels of crude oil, predominantly to the Syrian regime. These shipments, taken collectively, sold for more than half a billion dollars," according to the statement.
"Treasury's action against this sprawling petroleum network makes it explicitly clear that those purchasing Iranian oil are directly supporting Iran's militants and terrorist arm, the IRGC-Qods Force," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Iran's former Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi and his son Morteza, are among those hit by the sanctions.
Also targeted are subsidiaries of an Indian firm with an interest in the Adrian Darya 1, the Iranian tanker the authorities in Gibraltar detained in July on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
The vessel was eventually allowed to leave after giving assurances that it would not travel to Syria. It is now cruising the Mediterranean Sea.
The Treasury Department's action froze any assets in the United States of the designated individuals and entities and generally prohibited any U.S. citizens or companies from doing business with them.
The move comes a day after Washington announced sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two of its research institutes, saying they are being used to advance Tehran's missile program.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the punitive measures "totally ineffective."
The United States last year withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, and has since reimposed sanctions on Iran to force the country to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missiles programs.
Iran denies U.S. allegations it is trying to develop ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.
With reporting by Reuters
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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