The United States and six Middle Eastern countries have agreed to impose sanctions jointly on 25 corporations, banks, and individuals that are connected to Iran regime’s support for militant networks, including Hezbollah, according to the US Treasury Department on Wednesday.
The Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) nations, which also include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, said the blacklisted targets were all already under financial sanctions imposed by the US.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the announcement during his visit to several Middle East allies, which was designed to increase support for additional pressure on Iran.
Mnuchin said: “The president couldn’t be more clear that we are executing a maximum pressure campaign on Iran. This is about stopping a bad actor.”
He also said the US would ramp up economic pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
The US has been reimposing sanctions on Iran ever since Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers, citing Iranian aggression and noncompliance. These sanctions have cut off Iran's regime’s oil exports as well as Iran’s banking ties to the US and dried up a great deal of their GDP.
Mnuchin said the sanctions, which were supposed to halt Iran regime’s oil shipments, were not hurting the global economy because oil markets were being well supplied with increased production from Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other countries.
Tensions have been rising between the US, its Gulf allies, and Iran, for several months after attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and the missile strike on Saudi oil facilities, which the US and others have blamed on the Iranian regime.
Of the targets announced Wednesday, 21 were part of a vast network that provides financial support to the Basij Resistance Force, although the Basij’s ownership and control over multibillion-dollar business interests in Iran are covered up by using shell companies and other measures.
The Basij is a paramilitary group that works for Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to the US Treasury, with one senior Treasury official saying that the group attacks demonstrators, recruit child soldiers, and uses torture.
Four of the targeted individuals were affiliated with Hezbollah and helped to coordinate the group’s operations in Iraq.
Earlier this month, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is an international body that sets standards on combating terrorist financing, gave Iran until February 2020 to comply with international norms.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the move by the FATF, saying in a statement on Wednesday that the IRGC “continues to engage in large-scale, illicit, financing schemes to fund its malign activities”.