New US sanctions target illicit financial network aiding Iran, military

US Treasury Department says Iran relies on brokers, front companies to finance proxies across region, including Hamas.

FILE- This June 6, 2019, file photo shows the U.S. Treasury Department building at dusk in Washington. The Treasury Department says it will employ extraordinary measures to avoid an unprecedented default on the national debt this summer, but officials say those measures could be exhausted “much more quickly” than normal given the unusual circumstances of the global pandemic. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
US Treasury building in Washington, DC, US [File: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

The United States Department of the Treasury has announced new sanctions targeting 21 Iranians, foreign nationals, and firms accused of involvement in an illicit financial network for the benefit of the Iranian military.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said that Iran relies on an array of “foreign-based front companies and brokers” to fund regional armed groups such as the Palestinian group Hamas and the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.

“Iran generates the equivalent of billions of dollars via commodity sales to fund its destabilizing regional activities and support of multiple regional proxy groups, including Hamas” and Hezbollah, the statement said.

Iran engages in “illicit finance schemes to generate funds to fan conflict and spread terror throughout the region,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“The United States remains committed to exposing elements of the Iranian military and its complicit partners abroad to disrupt this critical source of funds,” he added.

The US has issued sanctions targeting Iran-backed groups across the region since Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel on October 7, sparking fears of a wider conflict that could draw in Washington and Iran’s formidable network of proxies.


Those sanctioned, including firms based in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Iran, help generate funds for several branches of the Iranian military, including the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces Logistics, and Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the department said.

The sanctions package includes the Iran-based firm Sepehr Energy and employees, brokers, and buyers connected to it. The Associated Press news agency reported that the company did not respond to a request for comment.

The designations block access to US property and financial assets and generally bar people in the US from dealing with them.

The announcement came on the same day that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that he would miss an important meeting on the Israel-Hamas conflict at the United Nations headquarters because US authorities did not deliver visas for him and his delegation on time.

“The Americans issued visas for me and all my companions at 1:00 am [21:30 GMT],” Amir-Abdollahian said after a cabinet meeting, noting that this made it “not possible” for the Iranian delegation to attend.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies