The United States has imposed sanctions on 13 companies based in Iran, China, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for helping to export Iranian oil. Washington has accused these companies of facilitating the sale of Iranian petrochemical and petroleum products to buyers in East Asia. Reuters news.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has imposed the ban yesterday (Thursday). By imposing sanctions, the United States said, the 13 companies allowed Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry, National Iranian Oil Company, Trillions Petrochemical Company and Naftiran Intertrade Company to sell their oil and oil products.

Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in the statement, ‘Today’s action further demonstrates that Iran is using sophisticated methods of sanctions evasion to illegally sell petroleum and petrochemical products. The United States will continue to enforce sanctions against those who facilitate these sales.’

Washington imposed sanctions on these four institutions of Iran a long time ago. They even warned that if any foreign company cooperated with them, they would also come under the ban.

Also targeted was Dubai-based Access Technology Trading LLC, which Treasury accused of buying millions of dollars worth of petrochemicals from the US-sanctioned Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Company for shipment to China.

China-based East Asia Trading Import & Export Trade Co. Ltd. is also on the list. Washington has accused the National Iranian Oil Company and its marketing arm of facilitating shipments of petroleum to a foreign customer.

The latest U.S. move against Iranian oil smuggling comes as efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal have stalled and relations between the Islamic Republic and the West have become increasingly strained as Iranians continue anti-government protests.

With this, the US Finance Ministry has imposed the fifth round of sanctions on Iran’s energy sector since June 2022. Former US President Donald Trump adopted a policy of applying ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran in order to bring it to its knees.

Based on that policy, in May 2018, the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed all sanctions on Tehran. Current President Joe Biden has announced a departure from that policy, but it has not been reflected in reality.

Washington has increasingly targeted Chinese companies over Iran’s petrochemical exports as the prospect of reviving the nuclear deal fades.

(18 November)