Iranian Guards Suffer Sanctions

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards are pulling out of gas development projects following sanctions. EU considers new penalties.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 18:31

Oil Refinery
Oil Refinery
Israel news photo

The industrial wing of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Khatam al-Anbiya, has pulled out of development projects in the South Pars gas field due to international sanctions.

"Given the current circumstances, continuing our work in phases 15 and 16 may endanger the nation's resources,” the company said in explanation of its decision. Khatam al-Anbiya won a contract to develop the gas field in 2006, leading to concerns that the Revolutionary Guards were taking over the oil market.

The statement from Khatam al-Anbiya referred to sanctions as “an oppressive move by the West.”

The United Nations Security Council voted in June to impose sanctions on Khatam al-Anbiya and several other companies with ties to the Revolutionary Guards. The European Union and the United States later agreed to their own harsher sanctions, which targeted Iran's energy sector.

The EU is considering yet another set of tough sanctions. In the upcoming days EU leaders are expected to decide whether to ban investment in Iran's oil and gas sectors and to prohibit the sale to Iran of equipment or technology that could be used for nuclear development or used in the oil or gas industry.

The United States Secretary of the Treasury had targeted Khatam al-Anbiya for sanctions in February under Executive Order 13382, which allows for freezing the assets of companies supporting regimes that seek weapons of mass destruction. Iran is believed to be in an advanced stage of development of nuclear weapons.

US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said at the time that the sanctions would help international firms to avoid strengthening the Revolutionary Guards, which he accused of “displacing ordinary Iranian businessmen in favor of a select group of insiders” and of conducting “dangerous activities.”

Iranian lawmakers hit back on Wednesday, voting to allow the government to inspect cargo on ships or airlines belonging to countries that search Iranian cargo. They also voted to maintain Iran's limited cooperation with the UN regarding nuclear inspections.