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US Moves To Strangle Iranian Efforts To Secure Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Fund Its Troubling Military Activities

The U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed new sanctions on Iran Thursday, just two days after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran deal.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklisted nine Iranian entities — six individuals and three firms — involved in an illegal currency-exchange network in the United Arab Emirates. Network exchangers and couriers converted and transferred hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), specifically the Quds Force (IRGC-QF), a recognized supporter of international terrorism, to “fund its malign activities and regional proxy groups,” the department said in a statement. Iran’s Central Bank is said to have been “complicit in the IRGC-QF’s scheme and actively supported this network’s currency conversion and enabled its access to funds that it held in its foreign bank accounts.”

One of the sanctioned entities Jahan Aras Kish, a front company for the IRGC-QF, retrieved oil revenues from the Central Bank of Iran and transferred the money to couriers who exchanged it for U.S. dollars by way of two other now-sanctioned companies, Rashed Exchange and Khedmati & Co. Using forged documents, network operatives were able to operate under the radar in the UAE, distributing funds to Iran’s most radical military units and regional proxies. The sanctioned persons identified by Treasury worked for either the firms or the IRGC-QF directly.

The latest move by Treasury, which was taken in cooperation with the UAE, follows the president’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. will no longer be party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“As I said following the President’s announcement on Tuesday, we are intent on cutting off IRGC revenue streams wherever their source and whatever their destination,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. “Today we are targeting Iranian individuals and front companies engaged in a large-scale currency exchange network that has procured and transferred millions to the IRGC-QF.”

“Countries around the world must be vigilant against Iran’s efforts to exploit their financial institutions to exchange currency and fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” the secretary added.

The IRGC-QF has been blacklisted since October 25, 2007, and the broader IRGC has been designated since October 13, 2017. Later this year, the U.S. will, as a result of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, re-impose sanctions on the Government of Iran.

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