US targets Iranian banks, companies and paramilitary force with fresh set of sanctions

US targets Iranian banks, companies and paramilitary force with fresh set of sanctions
Scene at the Great Conference of Basij members at Azadi stadium in Tehran on October 4.
By bne IntelliNews October 16, 2018

The US Treasury is targeting Iran’s Bank Mellat and Mehr Eqtesad Bank with additional sanctions aimed at wrecking the Iranian economy.

The Treasury, spearheading the Trump administration’s sanctions-led economic attack at Iran aimed at forcing the Iranians to reshape their role in Middle East affairs, said in an October 16 announcement posted on its website that the US is also imposing sanctions on Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, Esfehan’s Mobarakeh Steel Company, and other companies linked to investment, commodities and engineering.

Moreover, the Treasury said it was directing sanctions at what it claimed was a multibillion-dollar financial network that backs an Iranian paramilitary force that recruits and trains child soldiers for the country’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The most harmful sanctions to Iran, which seek to establish a worldwide embargo on the Islamic Republic’s lifeline oil exports, kick in on November 5.

The network referred to by the Treasury is Bonyad Taavon Basij, which US officials say provides financial infrastructure to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that works for the IRGC. Both Basij groups are subject to the new sanctions.

“This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers [as young as 12] who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” claimed US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Prior to announcing the new waves of sanctions in early may, the US unilaterally withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers. Signed in late 2015, it shielded Iran from heavy sanctions in return for measures designed to prevent Tehran from moving towards the development of a nuclear weapon. All the other major power signatories to the accord—the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China—have remained in the deal, saying Iran has honoured its conditions. They are opposed to the Trump administration’s sanctions and have pledged to work to salvage the nuclear deal and maintain trade and investment with the Iranians.

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