EU Slaps New Sanctions on Iranian Regime Officials for the First Time in 8 Years
The European Union has imposed sanctions on new Iranian officials for the first time since 2013 by adding key figures from the Tehran regime, including the leader of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, to its list of sanctions individuals.
In the first new sanctions of this type against Iran in 8 years, the EU commenced measures against a total of eight Iranian security officials for their role in the 2019 crackdown against popular protest, according to an announcement in the Official Journal of the European Union on Monday.
With the new EU sanctions against 8 individuals and 3 entities, the EU now has sanctions against 89 individuals and four entities in Iran.
In November 2019, the Islamic Republic of Iran saw two weeks of street protests against a spike in fuel prices, which were ended with what has been described by observers as a brutal crackdown. This has now become the reason for the new EU sanctions on Iranian regime figures.
According to the UN, at least 304 people were killed in the suppressing of the protests in Iran. According to the Reuters news agency, which says its findings are based on reports from Iranian Interior Ministry officials, the actual figure is around 1,500.
The new EU sanctions against Iran come against the backdrop of the Union’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, after Democrat Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump as President of the United States in January 2021.
In 2018, then US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the Iranian nuclear deal, deemed a landmark foreign policy achievement of the Obama Administration, despite cricism from the five other participating powers – the UK, France, Germany, Russian, and China.
Despite its willingness to rejoin the nuclear accord with Iran and the other five powers, the new US presidential administration of Joe Biden, Obama’s then Vice President, has made it clear that it has no intention to offer Tehran special incentives to lure it back into adhering to the 2015 agreement.
The EU had put on hold punitive measures against figures from the regime in Tehran in the wake of the signing of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal so the slapping of the new sanctions on officials such as the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami likely bodes badly for the prospects of reviving the deal.
The new sanctions had been in the pipeline for a long time, and the EU had decided to impose them despite the ongoing nuclear deal talks, a EU diplomat said, as cited by AFP and DW.
Back in 2015, the Union dropped other sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program as part of the JCPOA deal.
Under the new EU sanctions, IRGC head Hossein Salami and seven other militia commanders and police chiefs in Iran are now subejct to travel bans and asset freezes.
The EU accused the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, in particular of being responsible for the violent response to protests.
“Hossein Salami took part in the sessions that resulted in the orders to use lethal force to suppress the November 2019 protests. Hossein Salami therefore bears responsibility for serious human rights violations in Iran,” the EU said.
Three Iranian prisons were also hit with asset freezes as the EU claimed they had been used to detain prisoners from the 2019 protests. In them, the imprisoned protesters were deliberately wounded with boiling water and denied medical treatment, according to the Union.