Trump administration offering $15M for information to disrupt financing for Iran's Revolutionary Guards

The Trump administration is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information that can help disrupt the financial apparatus of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The State Department through its Rewards for Justice program is offering the funds for information on the revenue sources of the military unit, which the Trump administration sanctioned as a foreign terrorist organization in April, according to details obtained by The Hill. This includes information on the financial sources of the IRGC-Qods Force.

ADVERTISEMENT

The administration is also seeking information on illicit oil-for-money schemes by the group; entities or individuals assisting it in evading U.S. or international sanctions; financial institutions working with the Revolutionary Guard and other topics related to the financial mechanisms of the Iranian military unit.

The State Department announced the reward at a briefing late Wednesday morning.

“The IRGC trains, funds, and equips proxy organizations across the Middle East. Iran wants these groups to extend the borders of the regime’s revolution and sow chaos and sectarian violence,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: Countries should reject China's demands to repatriate Uighurs Trump says he will consider releasing transcript of Ukraine call White House officials, Giuliani come to Trump's defense on Ukraine allegations MORE, said.

“We are using every available diplomatic and economic tool to disrupt these operations,” Hook said.

The Rewards for Justice program was established more than three decades ago as a counterterrorism rewards program run out of the agency’s Diplomatic Security Service.

When asked by reporters what information the administration hopes to glean beyond details already known by the U.S. intelligence community, Hook said there were “many possibilities,” including leads from individuals involved in moving Iranian oil.

“It’s often the tips that you don’t think that are going to lead to something big that often do,” Hook said. “There are many possibilities.”

Additionally, the Treasury Department sanctioned more than two-dozen entities and individuals and 11 vessels involved in an Iranian shipping network supporting the IRGC that U.S. officials accused of moving hundreds of millions of dollars of oil to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and other illicit actors.

Hook said that, taken together, the moves were designed to intensify the administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran.

The move marks the administration's latest effort to impose penalties on Iran since President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE’s withdrawal from the seven-country, Obama-era nuclear pact with Iran in 2018. It comes one day after the United States sanctioned Iran’s civil space agency and a pair of affiliated research groups, accusing Tehran of using them to advance its ballistic missile programs.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have heightened in the wake of Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, despite objections from U.S. allies.

Relations have worsened in recent months, as Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of a U.S. military drone and blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has also for the first time exceeded two limits of the nuclear deal and has threatened further breaches.

Trump said at the recent Group of Seven meeting in France that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani under the right circumstances in order to end the confrontation. However, Rouhani has rejected such a meeting unless the U.S. removes economic sanctions currently in place on Tehran.

Trump appeared to taunt Iran last week over a failed rocket launch attempt at one of its space centers, claiming the U.S. had no involvement in it. Trump stirred controversy by tweeting out what experts said was likely a classified satellite photo of the launch site.

--This report was updated at 11:52 a.m.

Trump later told reporters he had the “absolute right” to release the photo.