On Sunday, Iran issued sanctions on 15 different U.S. companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression, and Israel’s occupation of the land that Palestinians want to create a future state. These sanctions are deemed to be a response to the latest round of sanctions by the U.S., along with the continuing discussions by the Trump administration and Congress on whether or not to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
The list of American companies covers a variety of industries, from real estate to arms manufacturing. However, it also appears to be more symbolic, as none of the companies appear to have known business ties to Iran and it is unknown how Iran sanctions could affect those companies.
The Iranian move also came two days after the U.S. sanctioned 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the UAE for technology transfers that could boost Tehran’s ballistic missile program, according to Reuters.
“The sanctioned companies have, directly and/or indirectly, been involved in the brutal atrocities committed by the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestinian territories, or they have supported the regime’s terrorist activities and Israel’s development of Zionist settlements on the Palestinian soil,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement that was released on the state-run IRNA news agency.
In February, the Trump administration sanctioned more than two dozen people and companies in retaliation for a recent ballistic missile test. Several of the companies do have ties to Israel, as their products were either made in Israel at one time or the products are being sold to Israel. However, other countries use these products and do business with these companies beyond Israel.
A senior Iranian lawmaker, according to the Associated Press, said that Iran would consider a bill branding the U.S. military and the CIA as terrorist groups if the U.S. Congress passes a bill designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
The head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, Allaeddin Boroujerdi, said on state television that the move to further sanction the Revolutionary Guard goes against the 2015 nuclear deal Iran reached with the U.S. and the international community.
The 2015 nuclear deal is agreement that limits Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions. As a result, some companies are beginning to do business in Iran, although the influx of business has not been as much as Iranian officials seem to have anticipated.
However, the deal also did not mention human rights abuses within Iran, which critics say was a mistake, since Iran was backed to the negotiating table by the economic sanctions. Iran was recently cited for its high number of executions by the UN Human Right Council. Others say the deal was an appeasement move that emboldened Iran to continue with its terrorist activities within the region.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) released in February information pointing to military training camps that the IRGC was using to train fighters before sending them to Syria, Yemen and other hot spots within the region. They have also pointed out how the IRGC uses its financial position of power to export terrorism, often at the expense of the Iranian people.