Iran says new USA sanctions make talks offer 'hollow'

New US sanctions on Iran target petrochemical industry

The U.S. Treasury Department has announced sanctions against Iran's Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) as part of a series of moves to pressure Tehran to negotiate a new agreement to restrict its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

The new sanctions come as the Trump administration seeks to increase economic and military pressure against Iran both because of its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

PGPIC and its subsidiaries hold 40% of Iran's total petrochemical production capacity and are responsible for 50% of Iran's petrochemical exports, according to Treasury.

"By targeting this network we intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran's petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC", Mnuchin said. The holding company has awarded contracts to Khatam al-Anbiya "generating hundreds of millions of dollars for an IRGC economic conglomerate that stretches across Iran's major industries".

The Trump administration designated the IRGC a terror group in April, saying it "masquerades as a legitimate military organization" when it sponsors and participates in terrorist activities to bolster the government in Tehran. U.S. law already punished USA persons who deal with the IRGC with up to 20 years in prison because of the group's designation under the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list, a different sanctions program.

"The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy", he said, adding: "This a wrong path and the U.S. government can be sure that it will not achieve any of the goals set for this policy".

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A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015.

Meanwhile, in an interview published on Saturday, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Tehran was keeping up oil sales through "unconventional" means in order to circumvent the U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile, the chief of U.S. Central Command, Gen.

U.S. -Iranian tensions have heightened further since April because of Washington's moves to cut off Iran's oil exports, its deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to deter any Iranian attacks on U.S. interests, and recent attacks on Saudi, Norwegian and Emirati tankers that Washington blamed on Tehran. He added: "The most severe organised sanctions in history are now being imposed on Iran".

"It's a good way of keeping the political pressure on the front page", the former official said.

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