The United States imposed new sanctions targeting Iran’s state oil sector, including the Ministry of Petroleum and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the US Treasury said on Monday.
“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, a counterterrorism authority, for their financial support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF),” the Treasury said in a statement.
The Quds Force is the overseas arm of the IRGC and gives material support to Iran-allied Shia militias in the region such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Houthis in Yemen, and others in Syria and Iraq.
“OFAC is also designating multiple entities and individuals associated with the Ministry of Petroleum, NIOC, and NITC, including front companies, subsidiaries, and senior executives. In addition, OFAC is designating four persons involved in the recent sale of Iranian gasoline to the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela,” the statement added.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “The regime in Iran uses the petroleum sector to fund the destabilizing activities of the IRGC-QF. The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its support for terrorist entities and its nuclear program over the needs of the Iranian people.”
The Treasury also sanctioned several high-ranking officials of the designated entities, including: Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh, for being a leader or official of the Ministry of Petroleum, NIOC Managing Director Masoud Karbasian, for being a leader or official of NIOC, NITC Managing Director Nasrollah Sardashti, for being a leader or official of NITC, NIORDC Director Alireza Sadiqabadi, for being a leader or official of NIORDC, and NPC Managing Director Behzad Mohammadi, for being a leader or official of the NPC.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions against Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.