Twitter has suspended the account of Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh. His profile page on the social media platform is no longer visible and simply says "Account suspended."
Zanganeh was personally sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on October 26.
He was targeted along with other entities and high ranking officials in Iran’s state oil sector including the Ministry of Petroleum and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for supporting the Quds Force, the elite paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had 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 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.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has ramped up Iran-related sanctions in the past few weeks.
The sanctions targeted companies and individuals for supplying a state military firm, and more than a dozen entities and people involved in Iran’s nuclear, missile and conventional arms programs.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated since Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions against Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
Analysts have said that the Trump’s administration has been trying to make it difficult to lift sanctions on Iran’s regime in anticipation of Joe Biden claiming the White House.
Biden takes office on January 20. The Democrat, who was Barack Obama's vice president, defeated Trump in the November 3 US election.
Biden has previously said he will return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal under which Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from US and other sanctions, if the Iranian government resumes compliance.
- With Reuters