Saturday, December 15, 2018

(JNS) The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned nine targets last week related to an illicit oil network between Iran and Russia.

“We are acting against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the [Bashar] Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system, and in this case even used a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme.

“The United States is committed to imposing a financial toll on Iran, Russia and others for their efforts to solidify Assad’s authoritarian rule, as well as disrupt the Iranian regime’s funding of terrorist organizations,” he added.

Experts said this move was crucial in combating the Iranian threat.

“The scheme uncovered by the Treasury Department shows just how closely Iran and Russia are cooperating to not only help prop up the Assad regime financially, but to help finance the leading players in Iran’s global terrorism,” Boris Zilberman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told JNS. “So when Russia talks about cooperating with the United States to counter-terrorism, this is empty rhetoric, plain and simple.”

The State Department joined Treasury in sending a message to the Islamic Republic.

“The sanctions levied today directly target the Iranian regime’s exploitation of the international financial system to hide revenue streams it uses to fund terrorist activity, provide support for sectarian militias responsible for abuses against civilian populations and destabilize the region,” said the department in a statement. “The Iranian regime, Iranian-commanded forces inside Syria and the proxy terrorist groups it supports such as those targeted today continue to foment instability to extend their malign influence. These actions by the Iranian and Assad regimes undermine the legitimate processes to resolve the conflict in Syria.”

This development preceded Secretary of State Pompeo blasting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday for calling Israel a “cancerous tumor” and a “fake regime.”

“This is a dangerous and irresponsible step that will further deepen Iran’s isolation,” warned Pompeo.

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