President Trump imposes new economic sanctions on Iran

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President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Washington. Trump is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, left and vice president Mike Pence. (Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

WASHINGTON, USA – President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran Monday that is expected to deny the regime’s leaders access to certain financial resources and/or assets Trump said, before signing an executive order to implement the penalties at the White House.

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The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action Monday against eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). These commanders sit atop a bureaucracy that supervises the IRGC’s malicious regional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters, and its destabilizing presence in Syria.

Monday’s designations reinforce the president’s action in issuing an Executive Order imposing sanctions on the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the Supreme Leader’s Office. The president’s order will deny Iran’s leadership access to financial resources and authorizes the targeting of persons appointed to certain official or other positions by the Supreme Leader or the Supreme Leader’s office.

Moreover, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant financial transaction for entities designated under this Executive Order could be cut off from the US financial system.

“The United States is targeting those responsible for effectuating the Iranian regime’s destructive influence in the Middle East. IRGC commanders are responsible for the Iranian regime’s provocative attacks orchestrated in internationally recognized waters and airspace, as well as Iran’s malign activities in Syria,” said treasury secretary Steven T Mnuchin. “Treasury will continue to aggressively target the senior leaders and the financial apparatus sustaining this malign activity. This action is a warning to officials at all levels of the IRGC and the rest of the Iranian regime that we will continue to sanction those who export violence, sabotage and terrorism.”

Overview of Monday’s Action

Monday’s action targets commanders of the IRGC’s Navy, Aerospace and Ground Forces, in addition to the commanders of the IRGC Navy’s (IRGCN) five naval districts. These include the naval district commanders who are responsible for the IRGCN’s activities off the coast of the southern provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr and Hormozgan, which lie adjacent to the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

OFAC is designating IRGCN Commander Ali Reza Tangsiri pursuant to EO 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. As recently as February 2019, Tangsiri threatened that the Iranian regime’s forces would close the Strait of Hormuz, an international waterway if US sanctions stopped Iran’s oil exports and that the Iranian regime is prepared to target US interests in the region. As the commander of the IRGCN, Tangsiri sits atop a structure—including those regional IRGCN commanders sanctioned Monday—that is responsible for the sabotage of vessels in the international waters.

Also designated Monday pursuant to EO 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC is Amirali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, whose bureaucracy was responsible for downing the US unmanned aircraft June 20, 2019. Hajizadeh oversees Iran’s provocative ballistic missile program.

OFAC is also designating pursuant to EO 13224 Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the IRGC’s Ground Forces, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. Under Pakpour’s command, the IRGC Ground Forces have deployed to fight in Syria in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the brutal Assad regime. In 2017, Pakpour said that the IRGC Ground Forces were in Syria to help the IRGC-QF.

OFAC is also designating the commanders of the IRGCN’s five naval districts pursuant to EO 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. The IRGC is responsible for the Regime’s destabilizing and provocative naval actions in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

IRGCN commanders of five naval districts designated Monday are:

• IRGCN first Naval District Commander Abbas Gholamshahi
• IRGCN second Naval District Commander Ramezan Zirahi
• IRGCN third Naval District Commander Yadollah Badin
• IRGCN fourth Naval District Commander Mansur Ravankar
• IRGCN fifth Naval District Commander Ali Ozma’i

The IRGC was designated pursuant to EO 13224 by OFAC October 13, 2017 and it was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State April 15, 2019.

Sanctions implications

As a result of Monday’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated Monday may themselves be exposed to the designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals designated Monday could be subject to US correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

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