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Iranian-Russian ‘Oil Smuggling’ Network Hit With U.S. Sanctions

Washington has imposed sanctions on an oil smuggling network led by figures connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and allegedly backed by the Russian government.

“Today, the U.S. is sanctioning an international oil-smuggling and money laundering network used to generate revenue for Iran. Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of U.S. sanctions,” the U.S. Department of Treasury tweeted Wednesday

Among the sanctioned are current and former members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds force, along with Chinese companies and one former Afghan diplomat. On the Russian side, the sanctions target RPP LLC, which the Treasury Department says is the company used to help launder millions of dollars for the Quds Force. Also accused is UAE-based Zamanoil DMCC, which the Treasury Department claims is working with the Kremlin and Rosneft to ship Iranian oil to companies in Europe. 

The network is said to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the Quds force and Hezbollah. 

“This oil smuggling network, led by U.S.-designated IRGC-QF official Behnam Shahriyari and former IRGC-QF official Rostam Ghasemi and backed by senior levels of the Russian Federation government and state-run economic organs, has acted as a critical element of Iran’s oil revenue generation, as well as its support for proxy militant groups that continue to perpetuate conflict and suffering throughout the region,” according to a Treasury Department statement

The sanctions come as the U.S. hits a wall with Iran nuclear talks and a return to the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Until a nuclear deal is reached, the White House says sanctions on Iran’s oil trade will be strictly enforced.  

On Wednesday, Robert Malley, Special Envoy for Iran, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the chances of reaching a deal with Iran were “at best, tenuous”. 

Just last week, the National Iranian Oil Co. claimed that the country could double its crude oil exports if sanctions were removed. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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