Published: Sat, June 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

New US sanctions target Iran's petrochemical industry

New US sanctions target Iran's petrochemical industry

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control targeted the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. and its network of 39 subsidiary companies. It says the company holds 40% of Iran's petrochemical production capacity and is responsible for 50% of the country's petrochemical exports. The company has awarded engineering, procurement and construction contracts to Khatam al-Anbiya, creating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the IRGC, according to Treasury.

Washington placed sanctions on Iran's largest petrochemical holding group on Friday for indirectly supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the White House branded a "terrorist organisation" in April.

The administration accused it of providing support to the country's Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force which the USA labelled as a terrorist organisation in April.

"The IRGC systemically infiltrates critical sectors of the Iranian economy to enrich their coffers, while engaging in a host of other malign activities", said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Frank McKenzie, told reporters Friday that he remains concerned about the threat from Iran and that he would not rule out requesting additional US forces to the Middle East.

"By targeting this network we intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran's petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC", Mnuchin said.

US military officials and the White House have definitively laid blame for an attack on three oil tankers last month on Iran, as has close USA ally and Iranian arch-rival Saudi Arabia.

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A senior official in the USA administration told Reuters that this action "would continue to have a very chilling effect on the prospects for any future recovery for the Iranian economy".

The United States has sanctioned an Iranian petrochemical holdings group, the Treasury Department announced, the latest move in Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran.

United States persons are already barred from almost all dealings with the Iranian economy, so the latest sanctions largely apply only to non-US companies and individuals.

Friday's step makes PGPIC and the 39 affiliates "specially designated nationals", a status that effectively blocks us persons from dealing with them.

Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution think tank described the latest USA sanctions as "a natural next step in what I think is a deliberately redundant array of restrictions".

"We have unofficial or unconventional sales, all of which are secret, because if they are made known America would immediately stop them", he said, quoted by the oil ministry's SHANA news agency.

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