US slapped Iran with additional sanctions

Iran-sanctionsBy Julianne Geiger

The United States slapped Iran with additional sanctions, this time on largest petrochemical holding group, for supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the US Treasury Department said on Friday.

Today’s target was the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Company (PGPIC), who the US says has been funneling money to the organization responsible for Iran’s nuclear program and considered a terrorist group by the United States.

The United States had originally planned to target the petrochemical company a while ago, but delayed its decision in the wake of escalating tensions following the accusations made by the United States that Iran was responsible for the tanker explosions off the Strait of Hormuz just weeks ago.

Just how financially intertwined the petrochem company is with the IRGC is unknown, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, when he was director of the CIA, said that companies overseen by the IRGC could control as much as 20% of Iran’s economy.

While some analysts are suggesting that this latest round of sanctions feels more symbolic than effective, the company targeted is the second largest petrochemical holding company in the Middle East. It raked in $1.2 billion in revenue in a single quarter in 2018.

Speaking of Iran’s petrochem industry as a whole, Iranian politician Ali Bakhtiar told Iranian news outlet ICANA that the likelihood of the United States sanctioning Iran’s petrochem industry was “a media stunt and not something doable and feasible”.

“The issue of petrochemicals is different from oil. The United States thinks that Saudi Arabia can produce more petrochemicals like oil and make up for Iran’s absence in the market. Not only does Saudi Arabia not have this capability, there are serious doubts if the Arab country can replace Iranian oil.”

The US Department of Treasury press release warned that there would be more sanctions against Iran’s petrochem industry forthcoming.

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