Skip to main content

US imposes sanctions on Iranian petrochemical network

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration “will continue to use our sanctions authorities” if there's no nuclear deal with Iran.
AFP via Getty Images

If Iran and world powers fail to salvage the landmark nuclear agreement, the Biden administration warned Thursday that it will continue to use its sanctions authorities to crack down on Iran’s petroleum exports. 

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control unveiled sanctions on a network of Iranian petrochemical producers as well as front companies in China and the United Arab Emirates that support a pair of previously blacklisted companies described as “instrumental in brokering the sale of Iranian petrochemicals abroad."

The latest sanctions come as talks to revive the nuclear deal, which would ease sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, remain at a standstill. The Vienna-based negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action derailed in March, at least in part due to Tehran’s demand that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations. 

President Joe Biden campaigned on restoring the 2015 deal that his predecessor abandoned, which offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Biden's special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, told lawmakers last month that prospects for a deal were “tenuous at best.” 

On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration has been “sincere and steadfast in pursuing a path of meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation.”

“Absent a deal, we will continue to use our sanctions authorities to limit exports of petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemical products from Iran,” he said in a statement. 

Why it matters: The sanctions announcement comes a day after senior Biden administration officials reportedly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a classified briefing that the administration is prepared to step up sanctions on Iran should the nuclear talks collapse. After the briefing, several senators voiced skepticism about diplomatic efforts to constrain Iran. 

Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., told reporters he was “not optimistic about the path forward.” Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Al-Monitor that he believes Iran is intent on becoming a nuclear power and that “there is no acceptable deal we could strike with the current Iranian leadership."

What’s next: In mid-July, Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that share a common rival in Iran. A senior administration official told reporters that Iran would be on the agenda when the president meets with Arab leaders in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

Know more: Tensions between Iran and Israel are running high ahead of Biden’s trip to the region. Following a string of suspicious deaths in Iran blamed on Israel, Ben Caspit reports that Israeli intelligence has foiled multiple Iranian plots to retaliate against Israelis in Turkey.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Security Briefing Security Briefing

Security Briefing

Middle East defense and security in your inbox

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial