US targets oil smuggling network supporting Iran's Quds Force in new sanctions

The United States on Thursday issued sanctions targeting an international oil smuggling network it accused of supporting Hezbollah and Iran's Quds Force.

 Members of a special IRGC force attend a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Members of a special IRGC force attend a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The United States on Thursday issued sanctions targeting an international oil smuggling network it accused of supporting Hezbollah and Iran's Quds Force, as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Tehran.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it designated members of the network that facilitated oil trades and generated revenue for Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Quds Force, an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards that operates abroad, both of which are under US sanctions.

The moves come as Washington has piled pressure on Tehran as efforts to revive the nuclear deal have stalled and ties between Iran and the West are increasingly strained as Iranians keep up anti-government protests despite an increasingly deadly state crackdown.

The Treasury said the network designated on Thursday included key individuals, front companies and vessels it accused of being involved in blending oil to conceal the Iranian origins of the shipments and exporting it around the world in support of the Quds Force and Hezbollah.

"Market participants should be vigilant of Hizballah and the IRGCQF’s attempts to generate revenue from oil smuggling to enable their terrorist activities around the world," said Brian Nelson, the Treasury's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in the statement.

Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, attends a ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of senior Iranian military commander Mohammad Hejazi, in Tehran, Iran April 14, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, attends a ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of senior Iranian military commander Mohammad Hejazi, in Tehran, Iran April 14, 2022. (credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)