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US imposes new sanctions on Iran

March 27, 2019 at 4:55 am

Iranian demonstrators burn a picture of the US President Donald Trump during a protest in front of the former US Embassy on 9 May, 2018 in Tehran, Iran [Majid Saeedi/Getty Image]

The United States (US) yesterday imposed new sanctions on some companies and individuals in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The US government said that they had helped in raising funds for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The US Department of the Treasury said in a statement that it had blacklisted 17 companies and 14 individuals, whom it believed were funding IRGC activities.

Among the targeted companies, the statement added, were banks and other financial institutions, including Iran’s Ansar Bank, Atlas Exchange, and the Iranian Atlas Group Company.

“We are exposing an extensive sanctions evasion network that was established by the Iranian regime to evade American sanctions,” Reuters quoted the US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, as saying at a press conference. He added that the American government’s move would “increase pressure even further on the Iranian regime.”

Hook accused the Ansar Bank of paying the salaries of IRGC-Quds Force employees and Iranian foreign fighters in Syria, describing the institution as “the banker of the Revolutionary Guards and its overseas operations run by Quds Force.”

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“They created front companies to access the US financial system on their own,” he said, adding that the companies had raised $800 million over the last year and a half to buy military vehicles and to fund IRGC and Quds Force’s operations.

This is the second American move against Iran in a week. On Friday, Washington imposed similar sanctions on 31 scientists, technicians and companies in Iran “for participating in nuclear and missile research and development programmes.”

The new penalties come amid the US administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at bringing Iran to the negotiating table after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multinational accord that world powers had struck with Iran to curtail its nuclear program.

Since abandoning the 2015 agreement, the US has imposed a string of new sanctions aimed at choking off Iran’s funding, especially from oil.