With its commitment to use very tool possible to prevent regional destabilization, the United States imposed sanctions on the Syrian state-run oil company Sytrol under the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), as amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), for conducting business with Iran’s energy sector.
In his press statement at DC, Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell says the United States remains deeply concerned about the close ties shared by the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
Mr. Ventrell cites that in April of this year, Syria and Iran engaged in two-way trade in the energy sector, in which Syria sent 33,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran.
He notes that the United States has determined that the value of the gasoline delivered by Sytrol to Iran in April was over $36 million, significantly exceeding the monetary thresholds for triggering sanctions under this law ($1 million threshold for individual transactions and the $5 million threshold for multiple transactions within a twelve-month period under U.S. law).
According to Mr. Ventrell, this kind of trade allows Iran to continue developing its nuclear program while providing the Syrian government with resources to oppress its own people.
He notes that though these sanctions are a direct result of Syria’s provision of gasoline to Iran, the United States views Iran’s broader support for the Assad regime as completely unjustifiable.
He stresses tha Iran is actively advising, supplying, and assisting the Syrian security forces and regime-backed militias that are carrying out gross human rights abuses against the Syrian people.
Iran is also providing the Assad regime with equipment to monitor opposition activity on the Internet, Mr. Ventrell cited.
He says that Iranian officials have boasted about Iran’s support to Assad.
Iran’s actions in Syria underscore its fear of losing its only remaining ally in the Middle East and an important conduit to Hizballah, he added.
“Today’s sanctions action sends a stark message: the United States stands resolutely against sales of refined petroleum product to Iran and will employ all available measures to bring it to a halt.” -Mr. Ventrell
In addition, Mr. Ventrell underscores that any business that continues to irresponsibly support Iran’s energy sector or helps facilitate either nation’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions will face serious consequences.
Last month, President Barack Obama imposed additional sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors.
Two Executive Orders signed will further restrict access to Iran’s energy and petrochemical sectors.
The new sanctions follow measures taken earlier this year against any institution that deals with Iran’s Central Bank. They also are the latest round in increasingly punitive measures targeting companies worldwide that do business with Iran’s oil and energy businesses.
The Obama Administration’s move follows the failed P5+1 talks with Iran in Moscow, which came after similarly fruitless negotiations in Baghdad and Istanbul. No date has been set for more high-level talks between Iran and the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany. At the same time, Tehran continues defiantly to proclaim progress in its nuclear program.
Reports say Syria and Iran are strategic allies. Syria is often called Iran’s “closest ally” as well.