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US slaps new set of sanctions on Iranian oil sector, chipping away at diplomacy prospects

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s administration slapped on Monday fresh sanctions on Iran’s oil sector including over sales to Syria and Venezuela, reducing Joe Biden’s room for maneuver if he wins next week’s election.

The Trump administration has imposed since 2018 sweeping sanctions aimed at ending all of Iran’s key oil exports, punishing any country that buys oil from its adversary.

Under new measures rolled out today, the administration said it was designating the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran’s petroleum ministry and the National Iranian Tanker Company under a counterterrorism authority, meaning that any future administration would need to take legal measures to reverse the finding.

The Iranian regime continues to prioritize its nuclear program over the needs of the Iranian people, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Biden, who leads in polls ahead of next Tuesday’s election, supports diplomacy with Iran and backed an accord negotiated under previous president Barack Obama under which Tehran sharply curtailed its nuclear work in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a British-based Iranian businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, and related companies for transactions with Venezuela.

READ: Arabs favour Biden over Trump in US election: poll

The Treasury Department accused him of arranging the shipment of tens of thousands of metric tons of gasoline to Venezuela, where Trump has been trying unsuccessfully to depose the leftist leader, Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has also imposed sanctions on Maduro’s government and earlier this year succeeded in seizing fuel cargo of four vessels from Iran headed to Venezuela — which suffers major electricity shortages despite its plentiful oil.

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