US imposes new sanctions on Iran amid coronavirus crisis
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 02 May 2020 9:13 AM
The United States has slapped new sanctions on Iran despite claims of its readiness to help the Islamic Republic in its fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement released on Friday, the US Treasury Department blacklisted dual Iranian and Iraqi national Amir Dianat, also known as Ameer Abdulazeez Jaafar Almthaje, and his company Taif Mining Services LLC.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) claimed that Dianat is involved in what it called efforts by the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to "generate revenue and smuggle weapons abroad."
In addition to the blacklisting, the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia filed criminal charges against Dianat and one of his business associates, Iranian Kamran Lajmiri, for alleged violations of sanctions and money laundering laws.
It also filed a related action alleging that "approximately $12 million is subject to forfeiture as funds involved in these crimes and as assets of a foreign terrorist organization."
According to the complaint, Dianat and Lajmiri in 2019 conspired to purchase a petroleum tanker in a scheme involving the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company and the IRGC's Quds Force.
If convicted of the charges, the two men would face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.
"These defendants purchased a crude oil tanker valued at over $10 million by illegally using the US financial system, defiantly violating US sanctions," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in the statement.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed that the Iranian government continues to "prioritize the funding of international terrorist organizations over the health and well-being of the Iranian people," adding, "The United States remains committed to working with financial institutions, non-profit organizations, and international partners to facilitate humanitarian trade and assistance to the Iranian people."
Iran has been among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe. It has recorded 95,646 COVID-19 infection cases and a death toll of 6,091 so far.
The country is battling the highly contagious virus under illegal sanctions which the US imposed after scrapping a UN-backed nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers in 2018.
Calls have recently been growing on the international stage for the US to lift its inhumane anti-Iran bans, which have hampered the country's access to lifesaving medical supplies.
However, the administration of US President Donald Trump has turned a deaf ear to the calls demanding sanctions relief and instead imposed even more restrictive measures on the Islamic Republic.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he would be willing to provide aid to Iran to help deal with the outbreak if Tehran requested it.
Tehran has slammed Washington's hypocrisy in offering aid while waging medical terrorism against the Iranian nation.
In March, President Hassan Rouhani said the US offer to help Iran in its virus fight is "one of the biggest lies in history."
The US president "is like someone who has blocked the path to a well and does not allow anybody to approach the clean water … and instead holds up a glass of muddy water and says, 'I have come to help and I know you are thirsty,'" Rouhani said.
"We don't need the United States' glass of muddy water," he added, stressing that all the Americans have to do is to remove their barriers.
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