The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on an Iraq-based affiliate of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, one more in a series of steps intended to pressure Tehran following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the landmark nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
The Treasury Department said the penalties target the South Wealth Resources Company in Baghdad and two of its registered agents. It said the company and the two men are linked to the IRGC’s foreign wing, or Quds Force, and have trafficked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq.
South Wealth Resources has also helped move millions of dollars to Iraq “for illicit financial activity benefiting” the IRGC and Iraqi militias it supports.
The company and the two Iraqis, Makki Kazim Abd Al Hamid Al Asadi and Muhammed Husayn Salih al-Hasani, were also placed on the US State Department’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
“The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity” in the IRGC’s “ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
The administration last month designed the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, which makes providing it with material support illegal under US law.
The new actions freeze any assets that the targets may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
The announcement came as Japan’s prime minister visited Iran in an effort to lower tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Tehran is locked in a bitter standoff with Washington after Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in May last year.
Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade level on July 7 if European allies fail to offer new terms for the nuclear deal. While Trump says he wants to talk to Tehran, the US has piled on sanctions that have seen Iran’s currency, the rial, plummet along with Iran’s crucial oil exports.
The US also has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region, along with hundreds more troops to back up the tens of thousands already deployed across the Middle East. The US blames Iran for a mysterious attack on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, while Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen continue to launch coordinated drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.