By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) The United States reportedly offered millions of dollars to Iranian oil tanker captains so they would steer their vessels into a friendly port where their cargo could be impounded, allowing Washington to maintain a tight embargo on Iranian oil sales as a means of pressuring the regime in Tehran.
On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that the Indian captain of an Iranian tanker that was believed to be shipping oil to Syria was offered several million dollars by Brian Hook, the U.S. representative for Iran and a senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Washington Free Beacon confirmed that the offer of cash had been made.
The State Department was reportedly offering the money to have the captain sail the ship to “a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the U.S.”
A State Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon that the cash offer was made as part of a U.S. plan to disrupt oil sales that are used to fund Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps activities. The IRGC is known to supply Hezbollah and Hamas, two Iranian proxy militant groups that operate in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq and who generally target Israeli interests.
“The IRGC-QF is directing near monthly shipments of Iranian petroleum products—each worth tens of millions of dollars—to Syria and elsewhere to fund terrorist and militant activity across the Middle East,” the spokesperson told the Free Beacon.
Reports noted that the State Department has reached out to several ship captains and shipping firms to warn them of the consequences of assisting Iran in evading American sanctions and providing other material or direct support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Companies and individuals who have been found to be aiding illicit Iranian oil-smuggling operations could also be subjected to sanctions as well.
The offer of cash to captains is made under a 1984 program called “Rewards for Justice,” according to the Financial Times. A State Department official confirmed that the program can be made available to individuals or companies that contribute to the disruption of IRGC operations.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif called the U.S. actions “blackmail” in a tweet following the Financial Times report, according to the Free Beacon.
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