WASHINGTON, Sept.4 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions Wednesday against an oil transport network it says is associated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).
The move targeted some 16 entities, 10 individuals and 11 vessels that are alleged to be "directed by and financially supports" the IRGC-QF, the department said in a statement.
"The IRGC has been running an illicit petroleum shipping network over the last several months. This network has moved hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of illicit oil. That money is then used to fund terrorism," Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said in a press briefing Wednesday.
The statement alleged that in Spring 2019 alone the targeted network transported nearly 10 million barrels of crude oil, four million barrels of condensate and hundreds of thousands of barrels in gas oil, taking in about three quarters of a billion dollars.
The latest sanctions came on top a flurry of recent punitive actions against the Islamic Republic, including sanctions on its space agency, and an oil tanker transporting Iranian oil.
The sanctions are heightening tension between Washington and Tehran, risking further destabilizing the region, according to experts.
"The United States can certainly do much to contain Iran. But Iran has ways of responding asymmetrically," said Richard Nephew, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, who believes only a diplomatic approach can calm relationship with Iran.