US imposes new Iran-related sanctions on Iraq-based firm, associates

An Iraq-based company and two associates have been sanctioned by the US for supplying millions of dollars' worth of weaponry to fighters from the Quds Force The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose Iraqi branch the Quds Force branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, pictured here in 2018. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 13 June 2019

US imposes new Iran-related sanctions on Iraq-based firm, associates

  • SWRC and two associates have “covertly facilitated the IRGC-QF’s access to the Iraqi financial system”
  • The IRGC-QF were previously sanctioned in October 2007

WASHINGTON: The US has imposed Iran-related sanctions on an Iraq-based company and two people, according to a notice posted on the US Treasury Department website on Wednesday.

The Treasury said in a statement that it had imposed the sanctions on South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC) and two of its Iraqi associates, which the US accuses of trafficking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to militia in Iraq backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).

SWRC and the two associates have “covertly facilitated the IRGC-QF’s access to the Iraqi financial system to evade sanctions,” the statement said. 

The Treasury added that the scheme also served to enrich previously sanctioned Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, an Iraqi adviser to IRGC-QF Commander Qasem Soleimani, who has run weapons smuggling networks and participated in bombings of Western embassies and attempted assassinations in the region.

“Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Qods Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC’s ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities.”

The IRGC-QF were previously sanctioned in October 2007. It is a branch of the IRGC responsible for external operations and, according to the US Treasury, has provided material support to numerous terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Lebanese Hizballah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The US has designated it a key component of Iran’s destabilizing regional activities. 

The IRGC-QF’s parent organization, the IRGC, was sanctioned in October 13, 2017, and on April 15 was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Secretary of State.


Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

Updated 22 October 2019

Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

  • “Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” says Bahraini FM
  • Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program

MANAMA: Delegates from more than 60 countries including Saudi Arabia met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security after attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, widely blamed on Iran.

“Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the conference. “We must take a collective stand ... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states.”

In a message to delegates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

“This meeting comes at a critical moment in history,” he said. “The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

“Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us.”

Countries taking part in the conference, including Israel, belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

“The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation,” Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.

After the tanker attacks, the US formed a naval coalition to protect navigation. Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined in August, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed in September. The UK and Australia are the other main Western partners.