A US official says that if Washington does not return to the nuclear deal, it will use sanctions to curb Iran’s petrochemical exports.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Chinese and Emirati companies, as well as a network of Iranian petrochemical producers, accusing them of helping them “evade sanctions” by supporting the sale of Iranian petrochemical products abroad.
In a statement on Thursday, the US Treasury Department said it had imposed sanctions on two companies in Hong Kong, three in Iran and four in the United Arab Emirates.
Sanctions were also imposed on Chinese citizen Jinfeng Gao and Indian national Mohammed Shaheed Ruknooddin Bhore.
“The United States is on the path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson, referring to the Iran nuclear deal.
“In the absence of a deal, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to restrict the export of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemicals from Iran.”
Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, launching a campaign of “maximum pressure” of sanctions against the Iranian economy that his successor Joe Biden has continued to maintain.
Tehran has escalated its program in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.
Iranian officials say they want all US sanctions lifted immediately, while the Biden administration calls for a reciprocal return to compliance that would end nuclear-related sanctions and roll back Iran’s nuclear program.
But several rounds of negotiations have failed to restore the agreement.
One of the key sticking points seems to be the US designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran as a “foreign terrorist organization”. Tehran wants the nomination to be lifted, but Washington has so far been reluctant to do it.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister for economic diplomacy on Thursday dismissed the new US sanctions as ineffective.
“Our petrochemical industry and its products have been under sanctions for a long time, but our sales have continued through various channels and will continue to do so,” Mehdi Safari told Iranian state television.
Henry Rome, deputy chief of research at the Eurasia Group, said the sanctions could be aimed at increasing pressure on Iran as well as US domestic critics who argued Biden had failed to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. , to make blunt.
“Washington likely aims to increase the cost to Iran of an ongoing no-deal scenario while warding off domestic and foreign criticism that it is drifting its Iran policy,” Rome told Reuters news agency.
He added that a single sanction measure is unlikely to change thinking in Iran or China without a broader strategy.
China has remained the largest buyer of Iranian oil, while India reluctantly stopped imports under pressure from the US.
Indeed, Tehran could calculate that, given the state of the oil market and global inflationary pressures, a coordinated [US] campaign to collapse Iran’s energy exports to Trump-era levels is out of the question in the near term,” Rome said.