Over the past week, the United States imposed new sanctions on the Iranian regime and its supporters, continuing the ongoing maximum pressure campaign aimed at forcing Iran’s leaders to end their aggressive and destabilizing behavior.
On March 19, the Treasury Department sanctioned five companies for facilitating the Iranian regime’s petroleum and petrochemical sales. According to the statement, the five United Arab Emirates-based companies collectively bought hundreds of thousands of metric tons of petroleum products from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) in 2019 alone. “The Iranian regime uses revenues from petroleum and petrochemical sales to fund its terrorist proxies, like the IRGC-QF [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force], instead of the health and well-being of the Iranian people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
The day prior, the State Department sanctioned nine entities—based in South Africa, in Hong Kong and in China—and three individuals for knowingly conducting business with Iran’s petroleum industry in violation of U.S. sanctions. “The actions of these individuals and entities provide revenue to the regime that it may use to fund terror and other destabilizing activities, such as the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi and Coalition forces located at Camp Taji in Iraq,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said. “Our sanctions will deprive the regime of critical income from its petrochemical industry and further Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation.”
On March 17, the State Department increased its sanctions on the brutal Iranian-backed Assad regime in Syria, designating Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Ali Abdullah Ayoub, a senior Assad regime official who is responsible for the ongoing violence and disastrous humanitarian crisis in northern Syria. “While the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian enablers continue their illusory quest for a military solution in Syria, we are committed to a peaceful political solution,” Secretary Pompeo said.
On March 16, the Commerce Department designated new individuals and corporations for supporting Iran’s nuclear program. “We have made clear to Iran that it must comply with its nuclear safeguard obligations, and immediately provide the International Atomic Energy Agency nothing short of full cooperation, and the regime continues to refuse,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. “Iran’s nuclear escalation underscores the serious destabilization that the Iranian regime continues to cause in the region, and the threat posed to international peace and security. This Administration and the Department of Commerce are committed to taking the actions necessary to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
These recent administration steps are just the latest in the maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime. At the same time, the administration has reiterated humanitarian exceptions to the sanctions that allow for medicine and medical supplies to reach the Iranian people.
“We are trying to help,” Secretary Pompeo said. “We continue to offer assistance to Iran in numerous ways, and we will continue to do so. We have an open humanitarian channel to facilitate legitimate transactions even while ensuring our maximum pressure campaign denies terrorists money.”