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The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added several people and businesses to its Iran sanctions list, alleging that they were involved in an oil smuggling network that worked to fund the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, or IRGC-QF.
“The IRGC-QF is using revenues from its Iranian petroleum sales to fund its malign activities at the expense of the Iranian people,” the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea M. Gacki said in a statement. “These sales rely on key foreign intermediaries to obscure the IRGC-QF’s involvement, and Treasury will continue to disrupt and expose anyone supporting these efforts.”
One of the individuals added to the blacklist is an Omani national, Mahmood Rashid Amur Al Habsi, who, according to the Department of the Treasury, “facilitated the sale and shipment of Iranian oil through his companies to obscure the IRGC-QF’s involvement. Al Habsi’s companies have transported shipments worth tens of millions of dollars.”
Moreover, “As part of his oversight of shipping operations, Al Habsi has tampered with the automated identification systems that are onboard vessels, forged shipping documents, and paid bribes, circumventing restrictions related to Iran.”
Obscuring the positioning devices on tankers carrying Iranian oil is a common practice to hide the destination of the shipments, which is most often China. In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. was considering ways to choke off Iran’s crude exports to its biggest customer by targeting the shipping networks that were assisting Iran with its China oil sales, U.S. officials said.
The latest move comes as indirect talks between the United States and Iran on a revised nuclear deal continue to stall. The Hill reported recently that besides the new additions to the sanction list, Washington also planned to target Iran’s missile and drone programs to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com