Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, November 1, 2019— The U.S. government is imposing new sanctions targeting Iran’s construction and trade sector that is under the tight control of this regime’s notorious Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). This announcement, made on Thursday, October 31, includes four branches involved in the nuclear production, military sector and the mullahs’ ballistic missile program. Special steel tubes and bronze magnesium foils are amongst the sensitive materials made by these sectors.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Iranian regime’s construction sector is directly or indirectly controlled by the IRGC and the United States considers this entity as a terrorist organization.
These measures follow a similar initiative launched on Wednesday by the U.S. and six Persian Gulf member nations imposing sanctions against 21 banks and financial companies, along with four individuals linked to the Iranian regime and Hezbollah.
“The blacklisted targets were announced by the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) nations - which also include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” according to Reuters.
Twenty-one of the targets announced on Wednesday comprised a vast network of businesses providing financial support to the IRGC Basij. A senior Treasury official said the Basij attacks demonstrators and students, recruits child soldiers and engages in torture.
The Treasury said shell companies and other measures were used to cloak Basij ownership and control over multibillion-dollar business interests in the Iranian regime’s automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries, many of which are checkered across the Middle East and Europe.
The four targeted individuals were Hezbollah-affiliated and help coordinate the group’s operations in Iraq, the U.S. Treasury Department added.
Prior to the economic impact of these sanctions already suffocating the regime in Iran, understanding the political bearing is of the essence. New sanctions are being announced on nearly a weekly basis, shedding further light on U.S. policies despite the periodic brouhaha launched about possible direct or indirect talks between Washington and Tehran, or even through middlemen. Undeniable is the fact that sanctions have been ramping up on a constant basis.
Furthermore, the recent sanctions have two important characteristics. First, in addition to the mullahs’ regime, they are targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Second, six Gulf countries are joining the U.S. in these sanctions, and the mere fact that Qatar is cooperating with this initiative sends a chilling message to Tehran.
As a result, this latest joint measure goes beyond economic sanctions and further strengthens a regional coalition against the mullahs’ regime in Iran. This is quite evident in the remarks made by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“The TFTC’s coordinated disruption of the financial networks used by the Iranian regime to fund terrorism is a powerful demonstration of Gulf unity. This action demonstrates the unified position of the Gulf nations and the United States that Iran will not be allowed to escalate its malign activity in the region,” said Secretary Mnuchin.
These developments are unfolding at a time that Tehran is desperately scrambling to somehow pierce through the imposed sanctions barrier, especially through Qatar and Oman. It is quite ironic that the announcement of these new sanctions are parallel to a visit by Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Doha, the capital of Qatar, to participate in a security conference.
Furthermore, these joint sanctions are imposed against Tehran in circumstances when the mullahs are already under crippling pressures and the impact can be lethal for the Iranian regime.
Coinciding with these sanctions, the U.S. State Department also placed its weight behind measures taken by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force aimed at protecting the international financial apparatus in the face of Iranian regime threats. A U.S. State Department statement in this regard makes Washington’s position crystal clear by specifically saying Tehran deliberately seeks to establish a completely non-transparent atmosphere in the world economy in order to continue exporting terrorism.
The impact of Washington’s latest position is quite direct on future FATF decisions. This organization has to this day been very lenient with Tehran, providing four extension periods and providing the Iranian regime more time to approve outstanding FATF bills, therefore delaying the mullahs’ return to its blacklist.
Analysts believe this latest U.S. State Department position can mean the FATF must take up a firm policy vis-à-vis Iran and no longer provide any more extensions at the end of the current deadline that arrives in February 2020.
Iranian regime Financial Minister Farhad Dejhpasand forecasts a very similar conclusion. “This is the last deadline and there will no longer be more extensions… if we do not approve the outstanding FATF bills during this period, we will be automatically blacklisted. To exit this blacklist, we would have to provide a ‘plan of action’ and might find ourselves facing even harsher demands,” he warned.