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US sanctions target alleged oil smuggling network funding Iran’s IRGC

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The US Treasury Department announces a new series of sanctions targeting an oil smuggling and money laundering network belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and backed by Russia.

The network “has facilitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of oil for the Quds Force and Hezbollah, and it spans several jurisdictions, including Iran and Russia,” the Treasury Department says.

The network is led by Quds Force official Behnam Shahriyari and former Quds Force official Rostam Ghasemi, who have been designated by the Treasury Department for sanctions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration takes these steps as it continues to seek a mutual US-Iran return to compliance with the multilateral nuclear accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

US Special Envoy on Iran Rob Malley discusses the new sanctions during his testimony on the status of the JCPOA talks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The announcement is lauded by the panel’s chairman Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, but scoffed at by Ranking Member Sen. Jim Risch, who says the IRGC has already been thoroughly sanctioned and that this move won’t make a difference.

He says the administration should instead focus on sanctioning Iranian oil sales to China.

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