The US imposed a fresh round of Iran-related sanctions on Friday, targeting several Hong Kong-based companies and Chinese individuals.
The US Treasury Department claims these companies and individuals facilitate the transfer of money and goods to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia political party. While the US tries to make the activity sound nefarious, it’s likely the entities just trade with Iran and Lebanon.
It’s not clear if the trading involved oil, but Iran has found a market for its oil in Asia for buyers who do not fear US sanctions. These sales have been a vital lifeline for Iran’s struggling economy. But the US sees the trade as a threat to its so-called “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran, which has not changed under the Biden administration.
In July, a report from The Wall Street Journal said the US was mulling new sanctions that would target Iran’s oil sales to China. In August, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on shipping companies for allegedly transporting Iranian oil that it said was being delivered to buyers in East Asia.
On Friday, the US also sanctioned what it calls “Hezbollah financiers” based in Kuwait and Lebanon. Hezbollah facilitated a delivery of Iranian oil to crisis-stricken Lebanon that arrived in the country on Thursday, a move that could risk more US sanctions. More shipments are expected, and the US is not above intercepting and outright stealing fuel shipments, something Washington has done to Iranian gas shipments bound for Venezuela.