U.S. Hits Alleged Oil Smuggler, Network Of Companies With Sanctions For Backing Iran’s Quds Force

The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on an alleged oil smuggler and companies it said provide support to the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The sanctions target Mahmood Rashid Amur al-Habsi, an oil trader from Oman, and a network of businesses, two based in Oman, one based in Liberia, and one based in Romania, the Treasury Department said in a statement on August 13.

The action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the Quds Force used revenues from sales of Iranian petroleum to fund its “malign activities” and used foreign intermediaries to obscure its involvement.

The United States “will continue to expose and disrupt those supporting such efforts,” Blinken said.

The United States has designated the Quds Force a foreign terrorist organization, and in January 2020 killed its leader, General Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike.

The sanctions come as efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers have stalled, with indications that Washington is losing patience over Tehran’s delays in returning to the talks in Vienna.

Negotiations to seek a way to bring both sides back into full compliance began in April. The last round took place on June 20.

A senior European Union official said last week that Iran is ready to resume the talks as soon as early September. Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office earlier this month.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa

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