The U.S. has announced sanctions against a network of businesses in Iran that supports a group recruiting and training children to be soldiers.
The network, called Bonyad Taavon Basij, comprises at least 20 corporations and financial institutions that have significant international dealings across the Middle East and Europe. The businesses designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which enforces economic sanctions, are involved in mining, manufacturing and steelmaking.
Iran’s bonyads are set up as charitable trusts but can be used to mask companies’ ownership and control. Bonyad Taavon Basij provides essential financial support to the Basij Resistance Force, which is under the control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
The Basij Resistance Force has a branch in every province and city in Iran. It recruits children as young as 12 to deploy to Syria to support the brutal Assad regime. It is also responsible for violent crackdowns on citizens within Iran.
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real-world humanitarian consequences and help fuel the Iranian regime’s violent ambitions across the Middle East,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The Treasury Department notes that companies from Asia to Europe that partner with Iranian companies associated with the Bonyad Taavon Basij could be contributing to the human rights abuses and terrorism of the Basij Resistance Force. Therefore, such companies will be added to the new sanctions designation. The complete list is available through the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
These new sanctions are added to extensive sanctions on Iran that are being re-imposed since the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. The waivers for the returning sanctions expire at 11:59 p.m. EST on November 4, and the sanctions will be reimposed at 12:01 a.m. EST on November 5.
(State Dept./L. Rawls)