Newly appointed Minister of Oil Rostam Ghassemi says Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps construction base, Khatam-ol-Nabia, should turn away from small- and medium-scale economic projects and instead look to replace strangled foreign investment.
The Mehr News Agency reports that the former commander of the Khatam-ol-Nabia Base spoke at the induction ceremony for the new head of the base, saying: “Kahtam-ol-Nabia Base has strong resources, experts, facilities and infrastructure and is the largest contractor in the country and must be strengthened further.”
Ghassemi, who resigned as base leader to take over the oil ministry, said: “We have a large backlog in the country’s 20-year plan, and in the short time remaining, our vision cannot be achieved through ordinary projects.”
The new head of the base, Abolghassem Mozafari Shams, also emphasized that Khatam-ol-Nabia will not enter into projects worth less than 100 million dollars and will not take on small- and medium-scale projects and compete with the private sector.
The head of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, also indicated that the Revolutionary Guards should only take on projects that cannot be tackled by other parties, with the understanding that projects that can be handled by the private sector should be left to that sector.
Jafari went on to say: “Some believe that IRGC’s responsibilities should be limited to armed confrontation against foreign and internal threats, but the mission and duty of the Revolutionary Guards is not limited to this.”
The Khatam-ol-Nabia Construction Base was formed after the eight-year Iran-Iraq War by order of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. It became Iran’s largest contractor of industrial and engineering development projects and later diversified into mechanical engineering, energy, mining and defense projects.
In May, all subsidiaries of Khatam-ol-Nabia Base and its chief, Rostam Ghassemi, were put under sanctions by the U.S. administration. The United Nations followed suit a month later, blacklisting the Khatam-ol-Nabia Base along with four of its subsidiaries as well as another 40 companies.
The Iranian opposition has repeatedly expressed concern over the spread of the IRGC’s control over the economy and its interference in politics.