The Biden administration announced Wednesday sanctions on an alleged Russian-backed “oil smuggling network” that the US claims provided funding for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.
The Treasury Department said the sanctions targeted current and former Quds Force members and companies based in the UAE, Russia, and China over their alleged support for the Quds Force.
The sanctions are the latest sign that the US is not serious about reviving the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. Also on Wednesday, Robert Malley, President Biden’s Iran envoy, said the prospects to revive the deal are “tenuous” at best.
In a statement on the new sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the US is still committed to reviving the JCPOA. “While the United States continues to seek a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), we will strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade,” he said.
Indirect negotiations between the US and Iran have been stalled over President Biden’s refusal to remove the IRGC from a terrorist blacklist. Iran wants the terror designation lifted as a prerequisite to restoring the JCPOA since it means any current and former IRGC members are subject to US sanctions.
The US claims that the IRGC designation is separate from JCPOA-related sanctions. But the IRGC was put on the terror list by the Trump administration in 2019 as part of its so-called “maximum pressure” campaign.