United States sold petroleum from its largest-ever seizure of Iranian fuel for $40 million

United States on Thursday announced that it sold petroleum from its largest-ever seizure of Iranian fuel for more than US$ 40 million and will direct most of the proceeds to a fund for the victims of state-sponsored terrorism.

US officials did not say who bought the seized oil.

The 1.1 million barrels of refined petroleum were seized from four foreign-flagged vessels bound for Venezuela. After being presented with an August seizure order from the DC District Court, the ships’ owner transferred the petroleum to the US. Sherwin said the US estimates “that in excess of $40 million will be recouped by the United States” from the sale and “the great majority” of those monies will go to the victims’ fund.

Officials from the State Department and Department of Justice also said that the US had conducted its largest ever seizure of Iranian weapons in late 2019 and early 2020.

“These actions represent the government’s largest-ever civil seizures of fuel and weapons from Iran,” said John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security. “Iran continues to be a leading state sponsor of terrorism and a worldwide destabilizing force.”

The weapons, which included 171 guided anti-tank missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, land attack cruise missile components, anti-ship cruise missile components and thermal weapons, were seized in November 2019 and February 2020 when the US Navy Central Command intercepted two flagless vessels in the Arabian Sea.

The news of the seizures and sale came shortly after the US Treasury Department unveiled sanctions on eight entities based in Iran, China and Singapore for selling and purchasing Iranian petrochemical products.

The entities worked with Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd., a Hong Kong-based broker with branches in Iran, which has already been sanctioned by the US government.