A week before presidential elections are held in Iran, the United States Treasury Department on Thursday removed from the blacklist three former officials of the Tehran government, including the former managing director of the state oil company, and two companies from the petrochemical sector. Anonymous Treasury sources have stressed that it is a routine measure that is not related to the attempts to reactivate the 2015 nuclear pact, from which Donald Trump withdrew to the US in 2018.
The entire arsenal of financial and commercial sanctions against foreign individuals and entities, from China to Russia via Iran, depends on the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In a note published on its website, the Treasury specified that among the beneficiaries of the measure is Ahmad Ghalebani, whom it describes as the managing director of the state oil company.
"Today, OFAC and the State Department have lifted sanctions on three former officials of the Government of Iran and two companies previously involved in the purchase, acquisition, sale, transportation or marketing of Iranian petrochemical products," the Treasury explained in a statement.
"These measures are the result of a verified change in behavior or status on the part of those sanctioned, and demonstrate the commitment of the US Government to lift sanctions if these conditions are met (change of attitude or function)," adds the statement from the Treasury, without making any reference to the negotiations on the nuclear pact.
Attempts to reactivate this agreement by the new US Administration have not led to any progress despite the round of negotiations launched in early April in Vienna. On the contrary, the US-Iran rapprochement to resurrect the pact has exacerbated the internal power struggle in Tehran. On June 18, Iranians are summoned to the polls to elect a replacement for President Hassan Rohaní, amid growing discontent over the economic crisis, exacerbated by the effect of the sanctions reimposed by the Trump Administration after withdrawing from the pact. .
At the same time, the Treasury today also imposed sanctions against members of a smuggling network that finances the Huthi of Yemen, Shiite rebels who have the support of Iran. “This network generates tens of millions of dollars in income from the sale of basic products, such as Iranian oil, a significant part of which is then destined through a complex network of intermediaries and exchange houses (hawala) in several countries to the Huthi ”, explained the Treasury in a statement. By virtue of the sanctions, all assets that those involved may have in the US are frozen.
According to OFAC officials, "with these funds the despicable attacks of the Huthi against the civilian population and basic infrastructure of Yemen and Saudi Arabia are financed, thus undermining the efforts to end the conflict in the country", immersed for more six years into a war that has caused, along with that in Syria, the worst human crisis in decades.
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