The United States has added to the Iran-related sanctions list entities, ships, and individuals allegedly directed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for reportedly providing Syria with oil worth tens of millions of dollars in breach of US sanctions.
"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 a statement.
The Treasury Department explained that the complex network of intermediaries enables the IRGC-QF to obfuscate its involvement in selling Iranian oil.
"The IRGC-QF also relies heavily on Hezbollah officials and front companies to broker associated contracts", the Treasury said in a release. "OFAC also is issuing a new shipping advisory to the maritime community warning of these types of schemes and the sanctions risks associated with blocked persons".
The Treasury Department noted that this spring alone the network employed more than a dozen vessels to transport nearly 10 million barrels of crude oil, predominantly to the Syrian government, that sold for more than half a billion dollars.
The network also sold nearly four million barrels of condensate and hundreds of thousands of barrels in gas oil, bringing in another quarter-billion dollars, it said.
10 individuals, 16 entities, and 11 vessels have been added to the sanctions list.
"The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against a large shipping network that is directed by and financially supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its terrorist proxy Hizballah", the release said. "Over the past year, the IRGC-QF has moved oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more through this network for the benefit of the brutal [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime, Hizballah, and other illicit actors".
More Sanctions on Iran Coming
The US will impose more sanctions on Iran and is not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers during its maximum pressure campaign, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook stated.
"We did sanctions today. There will be more sanctions coming. We can't make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers", Brian Hook said.
Hook continued by saying that there has been no concrete proposal from the US’ European partners to extend a credit line to Iran.
"There is no concrete proposal, we have no idea if there will be one, there is no proposal so we're not going to comment on something that doesn't exist", Hook said when asked if the United States would support a French or European proposal to grant Iran a line of credit.
According to multiple media reports, France is proposing a $15 billion credit line for Tehran in an attempt to save the nuclear deal.
Reward for Info to Disrupt IRGC's Financial Mechanisms
In the meantime, the US State Department has offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the disruption of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' financial mechanisms.
"The US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its branches, including the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). This includes seeking information on the IRGC’s illicit oil sales, including via oil tankers like the Adrian Darya", the note said.
The new sanctions come just a day after the US government sanctioned Iran’s space agency and two research centres for activities linked to Tehran’s ballistic missile programme.
For months, the United States has been stepping up its sanctions on Iran as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign, which aims to force the Islamic Republic to renegotiate the landmark 2015 international nuclear deal. Tehran increased uranium enrichment activities in early August just over a year after the Trump administration exited the accord.