US seizes missiles and sanctions 11 firms over Iran oil dealings

With only five days left until the November 3 US presidential election, Trump administration is reinforcing its litany of sanctions aimed at isolating Iran.

The latest sanctions are part of a US push to pressure Iran and remove a key source of funding for its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [File: Vahid Salemi/Al Jazeera]

United States officials revealed on Thursday they had seized Iranian missiles bound for  Yemen and sold 1.1 million barrels of previously-seized Iranian oil bound for Venezuela.

The unsealing of the forfeiture complaints by the US Department of Justice came on the same day that the US State and Treasury departments announced sanctions on a total of 11 firms and individuals for their alleged involvement in the sale and purchase of Iranian petrochemical products.

With only five days left until November 3 US presidential election, the administration of President Donald Trump is reinforcing its litany of sanctions aimed at isolating Iran from the global economy, making it tougher for a potential Biden administration to unwind. The announcement also comes amid US intelligence community accusations that Iranian hackers sought to threaten US voters with fake emails.

The sanctions generally freeze any US assets the firms might have and bar American companies and individuals from doing business with them.

“The Iranian regime benefits from a global network of entities facilitating the Iranian petrochemical sector,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release on Thursday. “The United States remains committed to targeting any revenue source the Iranian regime uses to fund terrorist groups and oppress the Iranian people.”

The entities sanctioned by the US Treasury Department include Iranian firms Morvarid Petrochemical Company and Arya Sasol Polymer Company, Singapore-based Jiaxiang Energy Holding Pte Ltd and Chinese companies Binrin Limited, Elfo Energy Holding Limited, Glory Advanced Limited, Jane Shang Co Limited and Sibshur Limited.

These companies are the latest firms to be sanctioned over their dealings with Triliance, which the US first announced sanctions against in January.

The Justice Department’s forfeiture civil cases involve alleged schemes by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to secretly ship weapons to Yemen and fuel to Venezuela.

Assistant Attorney-General for the National Security Division John Demers said on Thursday that the US government had sold and delivered 1.1 million barrels of Iranian fuel that had been destined for Venezuela, which it had seized earlier this year.

According to the complaint, the fuel originated with firms tied to the IRGC, and shippers took steps to mask ownership. The two vessels carrying the fuel, the Liberia-flagged Euroforce and Singapore-flagged Maersk Progress, had struggled to discharge and shifted course multiple times over the past several weeks.

Michael Sherwin, the acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Thursday that the unsealing of the complaints was “divorced from politics”.

“These actions started last summer. And these are fluid, organic situations,” he said.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies