On Wednesday, the Trump administration increased pressure on Iran by imposing sanctions on an oil shipping network with ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. A reward of up to $15 million was also announced for anyone with information that could hurt the Iranian economy even further.
The new measures are part of US President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign that intends to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal that was withdrawn last year and to cease a range of activities that the US and its allies say will destabilize the Middle East.
"There will be more sanctions coming,'' Brian Hook, US' special envoy for Iran, told reporters at the State Department. "We can't make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure.''
The new sanctions target 16 firms, 10 people and 11 vessels involved in what US officials say is a network controlled by the Guard that ships millions of dollars' worth of oil, mostly to Syria, in violation of American sanctions.
Companies or individuals doing business with the shipping network could also be exposed to punishing US financial measures.
The US administration singled out the India-based Mehdi Group for providing crews and vessels used by the network, as well as several affiliates and other firms based in Lebanon, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
US officials say that proceeds from the sales are being used to fund Iran's nuclear and missile programs and also to support groups such as Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the sanctions on the shipping network are intended to make it "explicitly clear that those purchasing Iranian oil are directly supporting Iran's militant and terrorist arm,'' the Revolutionary Guard.
In a separate announcement, Hook said that the US government would offer rewards of up to $15 million to anyone who provides information that leads to disruption of the Guard's finances.
The new measures announced appears to have dampened efforts of Europe to offset the trouble caused by US sanctions and keeping remaining of the 2015 Nuclear Deal alive.