July 21, 2019

U.S. Slaps Further Sanctions on Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Akron-Canton airport in Canton, Ohio, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The United States is putting further sanctions on the Iranian regime, with the latest round targeting Iran’s largest petrochemicals company on Friday.

The Associated Press reports that the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company has been conducting business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Trump administration designated as a Foreign Terror Organization in April.

We intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran’s petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC,” Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “This action is a warning that we will continue to target holding groups and companies in the petrochemical sector and elsewhere that provide financial lifelines to the IRGC.”

According to the Treasury Department, the aforementioned petrochemical company accounts for around half of Iran’s petrochemical exports and 40 percent of the country’s petrochemical production. Petrochemicals are chemicals extracted from petroleum and other fossil fuels that are used in making products like soap and fertilizer.

The latest round of sanctions comes after a former deputy for the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran could get nuclear weapons as soon as six-to-eight months. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, a top commander of American forces in the Middle East, told NBC News on June 6 that Iran poses an “imminent” threat to the United States.

I would say the threat has probably evolved in certain ways even as our defensive posture has changed and become more aggressive, and we certainly thank our Iraqi partners for many of the things they’ve done,” McKenzie said.

In May, the United States sent Air Force bombers and a carrier strike group to the Middle East to counteract potential unspecified threats from Iran. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that war with Iran could break out at any time, but he prefers to hold a dialogue with the regime in Tehran.