- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed a civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of Iranian missiles and oil seized in three incidents starting in November 2019.

It is the largest forfeiture action ever taken against Iran for fuel and weapons, officials from the State and Justice Departments told reporters.

The missiles were headed to rebels in Yemen last November when the cache was intercepted by the Navy and Coast Guard. A second stash of weapons was seized by the Navy in February.

The stash included 171 guided and anti-tank missiles, eight surface-to-air missiles, land-attack cruise missile components, anti-ship cruise missiles and thermal weapons optics.

Separately, federal agents in August seized a multimillion-dollar Iranian fuel shipment bound for Venezuela. At the time, the Justice Department said it was the largest-ever seizure of its kind.

The shipment, confiscated from four oil tankers, was part of a scheme to sidestep U.S. sanctions.

“The two forfeiture complaints allege sophisticated schemes by the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] to secretly ship weapons to Yemen and fuel to Venezuela, countries that pose grave threats to the security and stability of their respective regions,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said at a press conference. “Iran continues to be a leading state sponsor of terrorism and a worldwide destabilizing force.”

On Monday, the Trump administration imposed stricter economic sanctions against Iran‘s oil sector as tensions between the two nations escalate in the days before the U.S. presidential election.

The moves come as President Trump increases economic pressure against Iran while penalizing companies and nations that do business with Tehran.

“This case exemplifies the remarkable collaboration across government toward our shared goal of protecting the homeland from regimes that threaten our national security. This investigation sends a message that the attempted circumvention of U.S. sanctions and the avoidance of export conventions will not be tolerated,” said Derek Benner, executive associate director for Homeland Security Investigations.

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