The United States on October 26 imposed fresh sanctions targeting key Iranian companies, entities, and individuals active in the country's oil sector.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that the activity of those sanctioned supports the Quds Force, the elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
"The regime in Iran uses the petroleum sector to fund the destabilizing activities of the IRGC-QF," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
“The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its support for terrorist entities and its nuclear program over the needs of the Iranian people,” he added.
Among those sanctioned are the Iranian Petroleum Ministry, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), and the National Iranian Tanker Company.
The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.
The action also imposes counterterrorism sanctions on NIOC, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and the National Petrochemical Company, which had previously been blacklisted by Washington under different authorities.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by President Barack Obama in 2015. Since then the United States has reimposed sanctions that had been eased under the accord and added other new ones.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are part of a maximum pressure campaign to limit the Iranian regime’s ability to threaten its neighbors and destabilize the Middle East.
"The few remaining buyers of Iranian crude oil should know that they are helping to fund Iran’s malign activity across the Middle East, including its support for terrorism," Pompeo said in a statement.
The sanctions also come after the United States last week claimed that Iran has been interfering with the 2020 presidential election. Iran called the accusation "baseless."