US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
Bloomberg, 24 Sep 2012 - The Obama administration will today report that Iran’s state-owned oil company is linked to a military unit sanctioned for weapons proliferation, terrorism and human-rights abuses, according to a U.S. official involved in the finding.
In a classified report to Congress, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will present evidence that the National Iranian Oil Co., known as NIOC, is “an agent or affiliate” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the official said on condition of anonymity because the finding isn’t yet public.
The Treasury Department didn’t find sufficient proof to sanction the National Iranian Tanker Co., or NITC, the main carrier for Iranian crude, for ties to the Revolutionary Guard, according to the official.
Even with the finding of the oil company’s links to the Revolutionary Guard, the law allows for continued purchases of Iranian crude by nations making “significant” reductions in such imports. U.S. companies and individuals are already barred from almost all business with Iran.
Under a law signed Aug. 10, Congress gave the Obama administration until today to determine whether the oil and tanker companies were controlled by the elite unit. Lawmakers are seeking to deny funding to the Guard, as part of an array of sanctions intended to pressure Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to halt his country’s suspected pursuit of nuclear- weapons capability.
China was the leading importer of Iranian oil in the first six months of last year, followed by Japan, India and South Korea, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. All four nations were granted renewable 180-day exemptions from U.S. financial sanctions over their Iranian oil purchases earlier this year.
Chinese customs data released Sept. 21 showed China’s imports of Iranian crude fell 20 percent in August compared with a year earlier, to the lowest level in five months.
Oil for November delivery declined as much as $1.11 to $91.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $92 at 12:20 p.m. Sydney time.
American officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have accused the Revolutionary Guard of taking over the most lucrative sectors of Iran’s economy. The unit or its members have been sanctioned by the U.S., United Nations and European Union for alleged offenses including nuclear and missile work.
Oil is Iran’s main source of income, supplying more than 50 percent of the national budget, according to International Monetary Fund figures. Oil earned the Persian Gulf nation $95 billion in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Proponents of financial and energy-related sanctions imposed say hobbling Iran’s oil revenue is the best way to slow its nuclear progress and forestall military action by Israel or the U.S. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian energy and medical research only.