US imposes new sanctions on Iranian officials after crackdown on protests



CNN

The United States on Wednesday imposed a slew of new sanctions on Iranian officials involved in the ongoing crackdown on nationwide protests in Iran — the latest US response to Tehran’s attempts to quell outrage after the death of Iran. 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

“It has been 40 days since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s so-called ‘morality police’, and we join her family and the Iranian people for a day of mourning and reflection,” State Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States is committed to supporting the Iranian people and ensuring that those responsible for the brutal crackdown on the ongoing nationwide protests in Iran are held accountable,” Blinken said. “Today we are announcing a joint action between the State and the Ministry of Finance, designating 14 individuals and three entities using five different authorities, demonstrating our commitment to use all appropriate tools to target all levels of Iran’s government to account.”

Wednesday’s Treasury Department sanctions target the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence organization and the IRGC’s deputy commander for operations, as well as two officials in Sistan and Baluchistan provinces, “place of the worst violence in the latest round of protests,” the agency said in a separate sanction.

The Ministry of Finance also approved numerous Iranian prison officials, including Hedayat Farzadi, the director of the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran.

In addition to sanctions related to crackdowns on protesters, the Ministry of Finance has also designated two Iranians and their established school – Ravin Academy – which “trains individuals in cybersecurity and hacking,” as well as Samane Gostar Sahab Pardaz Private Limited Company,” one of the main operators of social media filtering services in Iran,” said the Ministry of Finance.

“Hackers trained at the Ravin Academy have been involved in directly disrupting the communications of those protesting the Iranian regime,” Blinken said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sanctioned Iranian commander and chief of police in Isfahan province, Mohammed Reza Mirheydary, for his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of peaceful protesters during the protests. of November 2021 in Isfahan, Iran,” said Blinken. “As a result of today’s action, Mirheydary is ineligible for entry into the United States.”

The top US diplomat also announced that the US is imposing sanctions “against two individuals and one entity involved in extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights against individuals in Iran” – Bushehr Prison, which is “allegedly the site of several human rights violations,” Mohammed Reza Ostad, “the director of that facility while gross human rights violations were taking place;” and Mohammed Reza Mirheydary, “the commander and chief of police in the province of Isfahan.”

The Biden administration has unveiled a series of measures to punish the regime for its oppression against the Iranian people and to try and support the protesters.

In late September, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s vice squad following the death of Amini in their custody.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it is imposing sanctions on the morality police “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters.”

Shortly afterwards, amid internet shutdowns by the Iranian government in the face of widespread protests over Amini’s death, the US government took a move intended to enable tech companies to help the people of Iran access information online. .

In an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson last week, Iran Special Envoy Rob Malley emphasized that US policy toward Iran “is not regime change initiated from Washington.”

“Our policy is to defend and support the fundamental rights of Iranian citizens, just as we want to support the fundamental rights of citizens around the world,” he said.

“The form of government in Iran is up to the Iranians to decide. Our position, which is very clear, is that we support the basic human rights of ordinary Iranian women and men and that is our policy,” Malley added.

Malley said there is “no doubt” which side of the widespread protests the United States supports: the protesters.

“We are on the side of those fundamental rights and those fundamental rights that are respected,” he said.

US officials, including Malley, have said that supporting the protesters — not the Iran nuclear deal — is now their focus as efforts to restore the nuclear deal have again reached an impasse.

The Biden administration’s sanctions against Iran for its crackdown on protesters come as the US and Europe work to counter growing Iran-Russia cooperation in the war in Ukraine. Russian forces have bombarded Ukrainian cities with Iranian drones in recent weeks. Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Vedant Patel last week said the “deepening” of relations between Moscow and Tehran should be seen as “a profound threat”.

Patel said the United States would continue to take “practical, aggressive steps to make these arms sales more difficult, including sanctions, export control measures against all entities involved.”

“We have extensive tools available in our arsenal to not only disrupt Iranian arms transfers, but also to continue to hold Russia accountable for their ridiculous acts in Ukraine,” Patel said at a department briefing on Tuesday.

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