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U.S., EU, UK impose new sanctions on Iran over protest crackdown

The West on Monday stepped up pressure on Iran over its crackdown on protests as the United States, European Union and United Kingdom imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran.

January 24, 2023
By Daphne Psaledakis and Gabriela Baczynska
24 January 2023

By Daphne Psaledakis and Gabriela Baczynska

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) – The West on
Monday stepped up pressure on Iran over its crackdown on
protests as the United States, European Union and United Kingdom
imposed fresh sanctions on Tehran.

The actions, which reflect a deterioration in the West’s
already dire relations with Tehran in recent months, are the
latest response to Iran’s deadly clampdown on unrest after the
death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality
police custody in September.

The protests by Iranians from all walks of life mark one of
the boldest challenges to the ruling theocracy since the 1979
Islamic Revolution. Iran accuses Western powers of fomenting the
unrest, which security forces have met with deadly violence.

The United States targeted the powerful Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and senior officials in its
action, which imposed sanctions on the IRGC Cooperative
Foundation and five of its board members, Deputy Minister of
Intelligence and Security Naser Rashedi and four senior IRGC
commanders in Iran.

The U.S. Treasury Department said the action targets a “key
economic pillar of the IRGC, which funds much of the regime’s
brutal suppression; as well as senior security officials
coordinating Tehran’s crackdown at the national and provincial

Washington has accused the IRGC of continuing to
aggressively crack down on peaceful demonstrations and said it
has played “a leading role in suppressing protests through
extensive human rights abuses.”

The IRGC was set up shortly after the 1979 Islamic
Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system. It has
an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air
units, and commands the Basij religious militia often used in

The Treasury described the IRGC Cooperative Foundation –
already under U.S. sanctions – as an economic conglomerate
established by senior officials of the group to manage its
investments and presence in sectors of Iran’s economy.

The Treasury accused the IRGC Cooperative Foundation of
having become “a wellspring of corruption and graft” and said
funds from it have supported the IRGC’s military adventures

“Along with our partners, we will continue to hold the
Iranian regime accountable so long as it relies upon violence,
sham trials, the execution of protesters, and other means of
suppressing its people,” the U.S. Treasury’s under secretary for
terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a


The European Union imposed sanctions on more than 30 Iranian
officials and organizations, including units of the
Revolutionary Guards, blaming them for a “brutal” crackdown on
protesters and other human rights abuses.

Foreign ministers from the EU’s 27 member countries agreed
on the measures at a meeting in Brussels.

Those sanctions targeted units and senior officials of the
IRGC across Iran, including in Sunni-populated areas where the
state crackdown has been intense, a list published in the EU’s
Official Journal showed.

The new sanctions were imposed on 18 people and 19 entities.
Those targeted cannot travel to the EU, and any assets they hold
inside the bloc can be frozen.

Some EU governments and the European Parliament have made
clear they want the IRGC as a whole added to the bloc’s list of
terrorist organizations. But the EU’s foreign policy chief,
Josep Borrell, noted that could only happen if a court in an EU
country determined the IRGC was guilty of terrorism.

Britain also imposed sanctions on more Iranian individuals
and entities on Monday over the country’s “brutal repression” of
its people.

The sanctions included an asset freeze on Iranian deputy
prosecutor general Ahmad Fazelian, who the British foreign
office said was responsible for an unfair judicial system that
used the death penalty for political purposes.

Others sanctioned by Britain on Monday include Kiyumars
Heidari, commander in chief of Iran’s ground forces; Hossein
Nejat, deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC); and the Basij Resistance Force and its deputy commander,
Salar Abnoush.

The Basij Cooperative Foundation, linked to the Basij
militia, and Qasem Rezaei, deputy commander of Iran’s law
enforcement forces, were also sanctioned.

Britain has now imposed 50 new sanctions against Iran since
Amini’s death, the foreign office said.

Iran’s long-strained relations with the West have
deteriorated since talks to revive its 2015 nuclear deal
deadlocked and after Tehran unleashed the crackdown on
protesters last year.

Iran’s ties with the West have also been strained by its
support for Russia in Ukraine, where Western states say Moscow
has used Iranian drones.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Katharine Jackson and Arshad
Mohammed in Washington, Andrew Gray, Gabriela Baczynska and
Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam and
Kylie MacLellan in London and Parisa Hafezi; Writing by Daphne
Psaledakis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tomasz Janowski)

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