The U.S. designated “an international oil smuggling and money laundering network led by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officials that has facilitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil for both the IRGC-QF and Hizbollah. This oil smuggling network… 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”. The State Department asserted that “while the U.S. continues to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), we will strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade. We will not hesitate to target those who provide critical support for the IRGC or Hizbollah and facilitate their access to the international financial system. We work vigorously to counter sanctions evasion and continue to strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade. Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of U.S. sanctions”. Iran’s diplomatic spokesperson described the move as a “sign of the U.S. government’s ill will toward the Iranian people and an extension of the disastrous ‘maximum pressure’ policy”, adding: “Iran reserves the right to counteract such measures in a proportionate and firm manner in accordance with the principles of international law”.
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