By Jubin Katiraie

The US has sanctioned an Iraq-based company for helping Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was designated as a terrorist group by the US in April, to evade sanctions and smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Iran’s terrorist proxies.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on June 11 that the penalties imposed target the South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC), also known as the Manabea Tharwat al-Janoob General Trading Company, in Baghdad and two executives who helped facilitate weapons shipments. The Treasury also said that the company and the two men - Makki Kazim ‘Abd Al Hamid Al Asadi and Muhammed Hussein Salih Al Hasani - are linked to the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, which was named as a terrorist group several years ago.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement: "[The] 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. The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defences 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."

These sanctions freeze any assets held by the company or the executives in the US or its territories, as well as putting other companies off working with the SWRC, which will also reduce their financial abilities.

This is part of the US’s ongoing “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, which is designed to force the Iranian authorities back to the negotiating table for a fairer deal on all of its destabilising behaviour, not just its nuclear programme.

The US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last May, citing Iranian noncompliance among other things, and began reimposing sanctions to cut off the regime’s wealth in order to stop them from building a nuclear bomb or funding its terrorist proxies. The US said that Iran is a source of regional instability and must be stopped before it destroys the Middle East.

These new sanctions were announced as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Tehran as part of in an effort to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran, which are at their highest for 40 years.

Neither Iran’s mission to the United Nations nor representatives for the SWRC were available for comment at the time of writing.

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