Iran says US needs to ‘kick the sanctions habit’

Iran says US needs to ‘kick the sanctions habit’

Tehran, Iran – Iran called on the United States on Tuesday to “kick the habit” of sanctioning Iranian entities after the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on the Iranian oil industry.

Robert O’Brien, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, recently said the US has imposed so many sanctions on Iran “that there’s very little left for us to do”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted the time had come for the US to admit it is a “#SanctionAddict”.

Monday’s new sanctions targeted the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company, and the National Iranian Tanker Company “for their financial support” to the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Quds Force, whose commander-in-chief Major-General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a Trump-ordered drone strike in Iraq this January, is the elite unit of the IRGC tasked with foreign operations.

Following Monday’s announcement, Alireza Miryousefi, head of the media office at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, said the US had “out-sanctioned” itself, tweeting on Tuesday that “US hostility toward Iranian people has no limit”.

A torrent of US sanctions, which have now blacklisted the entire Iranian financial sector, have been imposed after Trump’s unilateral 2018 withdrawal from an historic nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has promised to return to the landmark accord, signed during the Barack Obama administration in 2015, and ease sanctions pressure on Iran in an effort to get it back to the negotiation table.

Last week, Washington imposed new sanctions on five Iranian entities over alleged attempts to interfere with the 2020 US elections.

Tehran strongly denied the allegations.

The US also separately blacklisted Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, describing him as a close adviser to Soleimani.

In response, Iran imposed sanctions on the US ambassador to Iraq and two other diplomats in Iraq. On Monday, the Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh was also blacklisted.

Sanctions on individuals serve to freeze any US assets they may have and generally ban Americans from dealing with them.

During his weekly press conference in Tehran, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said the new sanctions would not make a difference for Iran.

According to reports by tanker-tracking firms, Iranian oil exports rose sharply in September despite US sanctions.

However, exports have shrunk significantly compared with more than 2.5 million barrels exported by Iran per day before US sanctions.