Iran Guards boast they can replace sanctions-wary oil majors

TEHRAN - Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps boasted on Saturday that it can fill the gap in the country’s energy sector left by Western oil firms pulling out in the face of US sanctions.

By (AFP)

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Published: Sat 24 Apr 2010, 3:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:36 AM

A senior commander with the elite force, whose influence in the Iranian economy has soared under the hardline presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also played down the impact of Western sanctions on its trading arms and personnel.

“Today, the Revolutionary Guards are proud to declare that they have the ability and know-how to easily replace large foreign companies,” the head of the Guards’ political bureau, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, told the ILNA news agency.

“For example, we can take up big projects in (the southern port and energy hub of) Assalouyeh and replace Total and Shell,” he said, referring to oil majors which had previously been involved in Iran.

Iranian media have reported that the Guards’ main industrial arm, Khatam-ol Anbiya Construction, has been bidding for energy projects as multinational firms come under pressure to reduce their involvement in the face of UN and US sanctions.

Washington has been pushing for a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran that would specifically target the Guards which US officials have accused of being the driving force behind Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

It is the growing economic power of the Guards that Washington has been targeting for several years with its own unilateral sanctions.

The Guards now permeate all of Iranian society, with their engineering arm picking up massive contracts.

Javani dismissed the sanctions threat, saying Western governments would not achieve their objectives.

“Talk of imposing sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards is a bit funny,” he said.

“They could not achieve their goals by imposing sanctions on the Islamic republic. Surely, with the Guards too, they will fail to reach their objectives.”

The general said the Guards are now “inseparable from the regime and from the people.”

“The strength of the Guards comes from its reliance on the people. If they think they can impose sanctions on the Guards, they are wrong.”

The Guards, who have been conducting three days of exercises in the Gulf since Thursday, were formed by Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini soon after the 1979 revolution to defend the Islamic republic from internal and external threats.

They are one of Iran’s most powerful institutions and fall under the direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as the nation’s supreme leader.

The Guards’ industrial arm, which Iranian media say has some 25,000 engineers and other staff, is engaged in dozens of contracts in the construction sector, including oil pipelines.

The European Union and the United States have blacklisted it as an entity linked to Iran’s “proliferation actitivies” for its alleged nuclear role.

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