The Donald Trump administration on Monday imposed new sanctions on the Iranian oil sector, including sales to Syria and Venezuela, reducing the room for maneuver for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden if he wins next week’s election.
The Trump administration has since 2018 imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at ending all oil exports from Iran, punishing any country that purchases the product from its rival and for the benefit of its allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
According to new measures on Monday, the administration said it appoints the Iranian National Oil Company, the Iranian Oil Ministry, and the Iranian National Tanker Company under counter-terrorism authority, meaning any future government will have to take legal action. to reverse it.
The Treasury Department issued sanctions linking the three entities to the Revolutionary Guardians’ elite Qods Force, previously designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and whose commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US attack at Baghdad airport. in January.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions should send a warning to “the few remaining buyers of Iranian crude oil”.
“Dependent” on sanctions
Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh denounced the sanctions as “a passive reaction to the failure of Washington’s policy of reducing (Iran’s) crude exports to zero”.
“I have no assets outside of Iran to be sanctioned. I would sacrifice my life, my possessions and my reputation for Iran, “Zanganeh, also personally sanctioned, wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the United States “#SanctionAddict” (addicted to sanctions) on Twitter.
If Trump loses the November 3 election, sanctions could be among his last rounds against Iranian leaders.
Biden, who leads the polls, supports diplomacy with Iran and backed a negotiated deal under the Barack Obama administration, under which Tehran cut its nuclear operations in exchange for promises to ease sanctions.
Terrorist designations aside, the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on a UK-based Iranian businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, and companies related to transactions with Venezuela.
The Treasury Department accused him of organizing the shipment of tens of thousands of tons of gasoline to Venezuela, where Trump unsuccessfully attempted to depose President Nicolás Maduro.
The United States also imposed sanctions on the Maduro government and, earlier this year, managed to seize the fuel cargo of four Iranian ships bound for Venezuela, which suffer from a significant shortage of gasoline and energy despite the abundant oil. .
The measures have alarmed America’s European allies, who warn of disastrous consequences for humanitarian trade as well, although the Trump administration insists it does not include food or medicine.