United States targets Iran's petrochemical industry with sanctions

Cheryl Sanders
June 10, 2019

The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed new sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry, including the largest Iranian petrochemical holding group.

The sanctions prohibit the firm and its subsidiaries from accessing the U.S. market or financial system, including through other foreign companies, and blocks all funds or property that is in the United States or held by a USA firm. "This action is a warning that we will continue to target holding groups and companies in the petrochemical sector and elsewhere that provide financial lifelines to the IRGC", Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin had said in a statement.

In a statement the Treasury Department said any worldwide companies that "continue to partner with PGPIC and its designated subsidiaries and sales agents will themselves be exposed to United States sanctions".

Just this week, the top American military commander in the Middle East told NBC News he believed Iran or its proxies still pose an "imminent threat" to the US.

However, several analysts said the sanctions' effect will be moderated somewhat because non-U.S. companies already have begun to avoid doing business with Iran's petrochemicals sector because of existing sanctions.

The Treasury Department said the move was ordered because the company provides financial support to Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, the engineering conglomerate of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

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". Last April, the IRGC was formally designated as a terrorist organization by US President Donald Trump's administration.

In April, the U.S. also designated the IRGC a terror group, marking the first time a government agency has been blacklisted as a terrorist body.

Trump previous year pulled out of a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for easing some sanctions, saying it did not go far enough.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Iran's oil and energy exports and has exerted embargo on Iran's worldwide financial transactions.

Amid escalating tension, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Switzerland on Sunday that the United States is ready for unconditional talks with Iran, a gesture dismissed by Iran's Foreign Ministry as merely "wordplay".

Other reports by iNewsToday