US sanctions Iran's biggest chemical firm over military ties

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Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, said on Saturday the United States move amounts to "economic terrorism" and a continuation of the USA "enmity" against Tehran.

On Friday, the United States slapped sanctions on Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) for allegedly indirectly supporting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as part of Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran. The company accounts for 40 percent of Iran's petrochemical-production capacity and 50 percent of its petrochemical exports.

The Treasury Department said Iran's Ministry of Petroleum had given Khatam al-Anbiya 10 different projects in the petrochemical and oil industries which totaled $22 billion.

"By focusing on this community we intend to disclaim funding to key aspects of Iran's petrochemical sector that offer reinforce to the IRGC", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mentioned in an announcement.

"All countries have a responsibility to react against the flagrant violations of the fundamental principles of worldwide law and not to allow the global community's achievements in multilateralism to be further ruined by the bullying and unilateral actions of the American governing body", Mousavi said.

The move plans to interfere with financing to the nation's biggest and most gainful petrochemical group and reaches out to its 39 subsidiaries and "outside based deals specialists", Treasury said in an announcement.

"Maximum pressure on Iran's regime continues today", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that US will continue to act to "deny the regime the money it needs to destabilize the Middle East".

US President Donald Trump previously sanctioned Iran's metals industry, and reimposed strict economic sanctions on its oil sector last autumn.

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A senior official in the US administration told Reuters that this action "would continue to have a very chilling effect on the prospects for any future recovery for the Iranian economy".

Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution think tank described the latest US sanctions as "a natural next step in what I think is a deliberately redundant array of restrictions".

Trump past year pulled out of a 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for easing some sanctions, saying it did not go far enough.

Mousavi called the new sanctions another instance of "economic terrorism" and a continuation of USA "enmity" against Iran.

The Trump administration designated the IRGC a terror group in April, saying it "masquerades as a legitimate military organization" when it sponsors and participates in terrorist activities to bolster the government in Tehran.

In a separate interview published by the Iranian parliament news site ICANA, Zanganeh said Iran had no plans to leave the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) despite pressure from the U.S. and its allies in the region - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In April, the United States announced it will not renew waivers it previously extended to the largest buyers of Iranian crude, which previously shielded them from United States sanctions against Iranian energy export.

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