Tehran has denied that there is a link between its state oil company and the military, after the US cited this relationship as one of the reasons for slapping sanctions on NIOC. The US Treasury expanded its list of sanctioned companies to include NIOC on 24 September saying its alleged connection with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was a basis for the decision. The US drew attention to the appointment in July 2011 of Rostam Qasemi as Iran’s Petroleum Minister – he was a former IRGC Brigadier General.

The US Treasury also said that evidence of the NIOC-IRGC link was an increase in construction contracts awarded by NIOC to IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbiya subsidiary. Mr Qasemi was Khatam’s Managing Director before he became oil minister. The US Treasury said that the IRGC is “coordinating a campaign to sell Iranian oil in an effort to evade international sanctions, specifically those imposed by the European Union that prohibit the import, shipping, and purchase of Iranian oil, which went into full effect on July 1, 2012.” (CONTINUED - 713 WORDS)