On October 30th, the US Treasury announced new sanctions on Iran, designating a network of corporations, banks, and individuals supporting IRGC and Hezbollah.
“The TFTC’s action coincides with my trip to the Middle East, where I am meeting with my counterparts across the region to bolster the fight against terrorist financing,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. “TFTC was created under the leadership of President Trump on May 21, 2017 during his historic trip to Saudi Arabia. It is a bold effort to expand and strengthen the cooperation amongst seven countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — to counter the financing of terrorism. The TFTC coordinates disruptive actions, shares financial intelligence information, and builds member state capacity to target activities posing national security threats to TFTC members.”
“The TFTC’s coordinated disruption of the financial networks used by the Iranian regime to fund terrorism is a powerful demonstration of Gulf unity. This action demonstrates the unified position of the Gulf nations and the United States that Iran will not be allowed to escalate its malign activity in the region,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “We are proud to join forces with our TFTC partners to expose and condemn the Iranian regime’s gross and repeated violations of international norms, from attacking critical oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to fomenting strife in neighboring countries through regional proxies such as Hizballah. This coordinated action is a concrete step towards denying the Iranian regime the ability to undermine the stability of the region.”
Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) jointly designates network of corporations, banks, and individuals supporting IRGC and Hizballah. This is the largest-ever tranche of targets designated by the U.S. and Gulf countries through the TFTC: https://t.co/5EZUoAoiKu
— Treasury Department (@USTreasury) October 30, 2019
These sanctions aren’t only coming from the US, but are a joint effort from Washington and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The sanctions are targeting 25 corporations, which were under financial sanctions imposed by the US to begin with.
“The president couldn’t be more clear that we are executing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran,” Mnuchin told Reuters in an interview in Riyadh. “This is about stopping a bad actor.”
On October 31st, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
Pompeo further established that Iran’s construction sector is under direct control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and thus materials that it receives and which may be used in connection with the nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs of Iran and their sale may be sanctionable.
At the same time, Reuters reported that the United States planned to allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to make it harder for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.
The Trump administration would let the work go forward by issuing waivers to sanctions that bar non-US firms from dealing with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
There’s no official confirmation and the source is unnamed, but a China National Nuclear Corp spokesman said by email that it was “starting to cooperate with the Iranian side under guidance from Beijing on seeking a positive solution to the Iran nuclear problem.” No other details were provided.
So far, since May 2018’s US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), numerous sanctions have been imposed on Iran.
In August 2018, the Trump administration sanctioned:
- the purchase or acquisition of US-dollar bank notes by Iran
- Iran’s trade in gold and precious metals
- transactions using the Iranian rial
- transactions with Iran in graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and industrial software
- transactions related to the issuance of Iranian sovereign debt
- sale to Iran of cars and car parts
- imports to the US of Iranian luxury goods such as carpets and caviar
- sale to Iran of commercial passenger aircraft.
In November 2018, the following sanctions followed:
- Iran’s oil exports and energy sector
- financial institutions conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran,
- port operators, shipping and ship-building sectors
- provision of insurance and financial messaging services to Iran.
In May 2019, the US sanctioned Iran’s metal sector and revoked its sanction waivers that allowed Russia, China and European countries to conduct nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
So far, more than 900 individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft are sanctioned in relation to Iran. That includes 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries, 200 persons and vessels in Iran’s shipping and energy sectors, as well as Iran’s national airline and more than 65 of its aircraft.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was designated as a terror organization.
The US squeeze on Iran’s economy has caused a kind of financial crisis. The Iranian rial lost more than 60% of its value against the dollar in 2018, while inflation is predicted to reach 40% by the end of 2019. The economy, which shrank by 3.9% in 2018, and it could plummet by another 6% in 2019, the International Monetary Fund said.
Iranian oil exports fell from 2.5 million barrels per day to 1 million bpd in 2019.
Thus, the US’ maximum pressure campaign appears to be working in the economic field, so far, at least in the short term, despite Iran’s claims that the sanctions are having little to no effect on its people. At the same time, the US failed to achieve its main goal – to shape the foreign policy and military course of Iran.
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