Iran Rejects US Sanctions on IRGC’s Basij

Iran Rejects US Sanctions on IRGC’s Basij

Thursday, 18 October, 2018 - 08:00
Turkmen Basij militiamen take part in an annual military parade marking the Iran-Iraq war, in the Iranian capital Tehran. (File Photo: AFP)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran rejected the newly imposed US sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' Basij forces and a "wide financial network", describing the act as a “blind vindictiveness”.

“America's new sanctions are a clear insult to international and legal mechanisms and a result of the American government's blind vindictiveness against the Iranian nation," said foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi.

He called Washington's "lack of adherence to international legal mechanisms" a threat not only "to the Iranian people's interests but also the world's stability and security."

The US Treasury Department slapped Tuesday sanctions on the Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were financing it, as part of Washington's campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran.

The Treasury also added that among other “malign activities, the IRGC’s Basij militia recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.”

“This is another important part of our campaign to exert maximum financial pressure on the Iranian regime, which will continue until it stops its criminal and evil behavior," said a US official.

On November 4, the second US sanctions package, which targets oil exports and financial transactions with Iran, will enter into force.

The US administration has announced its intention to double its pressure on Iran through sanctions that will be "the strongest in history" and take further action on issues other than nuclear.

The latest sanctions targeted Basij forces from the five core Revolutionary Guards and the Cooperative Foundation, which, according to the Treasury Department, "is comprised of at least 20 corporations and financial institutions,” including Mellat Bank.

Among the companies that have been sanctioned was Iran’s biggest steel company, Mobarakeh Steel Company, which dismissed the measures as “nothing new,” saying they will not affect its operations.

In a statement to investors, Mobarakeh said: “International sanctions are nothing new and Mobarakeh has faced them throughout the years just like other sectors of the Iranian economy.”

"This will not disrupt the company’s production, financial activities, and exports,” it asserted.

A steel industry expert in Tehran said the sanctions would hurt Mobarakeh, but without entirely stopping its exports.

The Treasury said, “the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region [Mobarakeh] is used as a revenue stream for Bonyad Taavon Basij’s economic conglomerate.”

The statement added that the company has provided millions of dollars each year to Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Company, an entity with close ties to the Basij and its Bonyad Taavon Basij.

“The IRGC is pervasive within the Iranian economy,” a senior administration official said, adding “this is precisely the kind of activity that we have warned other companies and governments about extensively.”

European countries, China and Russia are seeking to maintain Iran's nuclear deal.

The EU is working on a mechanism to enable Iran to continue selling oil without US sanctions affecting the buyers, but it is difficult to assess its effectiveness.

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