US Treasury targets lucrative Russian-backed Iranian oil smuggling benefiting Hezbollah and IRGC

The Biden administration stressed the importance of reentering the Obama-era nuclear deal
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force members, Tehran, Iran, April 29, 2022

The US Treasury Department on Wednesday issued new sanctions against people and entities in six countries for being linked to an oil smuggling network that generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and Hezbollah, both designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The department is targeting an "an international oil smuggling and money laundering network" led by IRGC-QF for facilitating the sale of Iranian oil for both itself and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist militant group funded by Iran.

The network was led by Quds Force officials and "backed by senior levels of the Russian Federation government and state-run economic organs," the Treasury press release stated.

People and entities in Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, are also being slapped with sanctions for involvement in the smuggling scheme.

"The United States remains fully committed to holding the Iranian regime accountable for its support to terrorist proxies that destabilize the Middle East," Treasury Terrorism Under Secretary Brian Nelson said.

The Biden official still stressed the importance of reentering the Obama-era nuclear plan, which has faced opposition from key US allies in the region such as Israel. 

"While the United States continues to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we will not hesitate to target those who provide a critical lifeline of financial support and access to the international financial system for the Qods Force or Hizballah [sic]," he wrote. "In particular, the United States will continue to strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade. Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of U.S. sanctions."