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US announces watering down of Iran IRGC sanctions

Iranians hold anti-US placards as they take part in a protest against the Trump administration's designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a "terrorist organization" in Tehran, Iran on 12 April 2019. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]
Iranians hold anti-US placards as they take part in a protest against the Trump administration's designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a "terrorist organization" in Tehran, Iran on 12 April 2019. [Fatemeh Bahrami - Anadolu Agency]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday published two notices in the Federal Register, watering down sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The notices clarified that countries and businesses dealing with the guard would not be banned from travelling to the US.

In one notice, Pompeo said the sanctions “shall not apply to any ministry, department, agency, division, or other group or subgroup within any foreign government” unless that entity is covered by existing US sanctions.

Since US President Donald Trump relegated the IRGC to the US International Terrorism List on 15 April, there was widespread concern that US officials would need to sever ties with countries who deal with Iran and the IRGC.

Without the exemption, the US would be unable to receive diplomats from countries like Lebanon or Iraq.

READ: New Iran guards Commander calls to expand operations against ‘enemies’ 

Iranian linked, Hezbollah, is active in Lebanon and the IRGC also support a number of Shia militias in Iraq. The waiver will allow for personnel to continue to work in these countries on military and diplomatic efforts.

In the notice, Pompeo said he had waived the travel bans for US foreign policy and national security interests.

Elsewhere, the move is seen as a weakening of the measures amid growing concern within the US that the Trump administration will fail to enforce the Iranian oil sanctions.

The sanctions on the IRGC are still in place, restricting their ability to import and export goods and preventing other countries from trading with them. Its members are still banned from international travel.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced it would not renew sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil. China, India, and Turkey are three of those importers whose waivers will expire on 2 May.

Turkey has already slammed the US decision. “We had indicated privately that zero was coming and now we’re here,” a senior administration official said on Monday, referencing Turkey’s concerns.

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