Oil tanker and rig
Oil tanker and rig iStock

US President Donald Trump's administration on Monday slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's oil sector including over sales to Syria and Venezuela, AFP reports.

Under the new measures, the administration designated the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran's petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company under a counterterrorism authority.

The Treasury Department issued the sanctions by linking the three entities to the Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force which was earlier designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and whose commander, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US attack at Baghdad airport in January.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the sanctions should send a warning to "the few remaining buyers of Iranian crude oil."

"These designations are an important step in the maximum pressure campaign to limit the Iranian regime's ability to threaten its neighbors and destabilize the Middle East," Pompeo said in a statement.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh denounced the sanctions as a "passive reaction to the failure of Washington's policy of reducing (Iran's) crude oil exports to zero."

"I have no assets outside of Iran to be subject to the sanctions. I would sacrifice my life, belongings and reputation for Iran," Zanganeh, who was also targeted personally, wrote on Twitter.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the United States a "#SanctionAddict," tweeting, "Kick the habit."

Since 2018, the Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran.

Earlier this month, the United States slapped fresh sanctions on Iran's financial sector, targeting 18 Iranian banks in an effort to further shut Iran out of the global banking system.

The US has begun to up the sanctions pressure on Iran on Iran after it started the process of restoring all pre-2015 UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The move to activate the “snapback” came after the UN Security Council rejected the US resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran, which expired last week.

However, the president of the UN Security Council rejected the US snapback demand, saying there was no general agreement among council members.