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EU places fresh sanctions on Iran over protest crackdown

January 23, 2023

EU foreign ministers approved a fourth round of sanctions against Iranian individuals and organizations. Their meeting comes days after EU lawmakers voted to put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on its terror list.

A placard of Jina Mahsa Amini which reads: "Say her name"
Iranians abroad have staged protests outside of embassies in response to the government's targeting of demonstrators at homeImage: Jonathan Brady/PA/picture alliance

The European Union announced a new round of sanctions against Iran on Monday at a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers.

Some 37 Iranian individuals and organizations will be banned from traveling to the EU and subject to an asset freeze, Reuters news agency reported. 

The move is the EU's fourth round of sanctions on Iran since widespread protests emerged after 23-year-old Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the so-called morality police last year. The protests against her death soon evolved into wider anti-government demonstrations, to which authorities have responded with a brutal crackdown, including executions

"The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters," said Tobias Billstrom, the Foreign Minister of Sweden, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Previous EU sanctions targeted 146 individuals and 12 organizations, including members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in response to the police crackdown on protesters and subsequent executions.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the EU must consider including the lRGC on the bloc's terror list, adding that "the Iranian regime, the Revolutionary Guards terrorize their own population day after day," 

Deployment of Iran's Revolutionary Guard fuels resentment

Iran warns of 'reciprocal' measures

Earlier, on Wednesday, members of the European Parliament voted to include the IRGC on its terror list in "light of its terrorist activity, the repression of protesters, and its supplying of drones to Russia."

However, ahead of the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said any such terror listing would first require approval from a court.

"It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision [must come] first. You cannot say 'I consider you a terrorist because I don't like you,'" Borrell told reporters in Brussels. 

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities said on Sunday that Tehran is working to put "elements of European countries' armies" on its own terror list.

"The European Parliament shot itself in the foot," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted on Sunday.

US imposes new sanctions on senior Iranian officials

On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on senior Iranian officials and a foundation linked to the IRGC.

The US Treasury Department described the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Cooperative Foundation as a "key economic pillar" of the elite military force and an economic conglomerate established by senior officials to manage its investments and presence in sectors of Iran's economy.

The Treasury said that it had also imposed sanctions on five of the foundation's board members, the Deputy Minister of Intelligence, and four senior Revolutionary Guard commanders.

zc,sdi/rc,wmr (dpa, AFP, Reuters)