The US Treasury Department has slapped sanctions on Iran’s largest and, according to Washington, “most profitable” petrochemical holding group, for allegedly supporting terrorism.
Announced by the Treasury Department on Friday, the sanctions punish Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) for allegedly providing financial support to Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), formally designated as a “foreign terrorist organization” by Washington in April.
In addition, the sanctions target PGPIC’s “vast network” of 39 subsidiary companies and foreign sales agents. Altogether, these companies hold 40 percent of Iran’s total petrochemical production, and are responsible for 50 percent of the country’s petrochemical exports.
Reiterating familiar claims, the Treasury Department stated that “the profits from these activities support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad.”
Months before designating the IRGC a terrorist group, Washington had Iran’s oil industry in its crosshairs. The sector was sanctioned heavily after the US pulled out of the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, last year, a move that dealt a severe blow to the country’s oil-dependent economy. Speaking in France on Thursday, President Donald Trump declared that Iran “is failing as a nation” due to the economic penalties.
US-Iran tensions have risen of late, with Washington beefing up its military might in the Middle East as a “warning” to Tehran. As the US cited unspecified “threats” from Iran, the Islamic Republic’s leadership traded verbal blows with Trump, but insisted that war would not break out.
Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that his country will continue to resist sanctions, and will not be brought to the negotiating table by economic pressure. “Standing and resisting the enemy’s excessive demands and bullying is the only way to stop him,” Khamenei said.__RT.com