The United States on Wednesday sanctioned an "oil for terror" network of firms, ships and individuals allegedly directed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that supplied Syria with oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars in breach of U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. action intensified a "maximum pressure" campaign aimed at driving to zero Iran's oil exports, the country's main source of income, and almost certainly will increase tensions that erupted when President Donald Trump withdrew last year from an international accord designed to stop Tehran from producing nuclear weapons.
Iran has been gradually reducing its compliance with the 2015 agreement in a bid to pressure European countries to compensate it for the severe damage done to its economy by multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions. Tehran was expected to announce further breaches sometime this month.
The 10 individuals blacklisted on Wednesday included Rostam Qasemi, a former Iranian oil minister, and his son, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
Also hit were subsidiaries of an Indian company with an interest in the Adrian Darya, the Iranian tanker suspected of carrying oil for Syria that has been cruising the Mediterranean since its release from detention by British authorities off Gibraltar in July, it said.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control action froze any assets in the United States of the designated entities and generally prohibited U.S. citizens or companies from doing business with them.
U.S. officials said that the Qods Force, the IRGC's elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm, and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia movement, profited financially from the sales of Iranian oil and petroleum products, mostly to Syria, that this spring alone were worth more than $750 million.