Iran sanctions 24 US officials over ‘terrorism’ and rights abuses

Iran and the US continue to sanction each other as they engage in talks to restore a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian flag fluttering
The Iranian foreign ministry announced on Saturday that it has blacklisted nine individuals for “their involvement in terrorist acts” [File: Lisi Niesner/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran has added 24 United States officials and people to its blacklist of sanctioned individuals over charges of “terrorism” and violations of human rights of the Iranian people.

On Saturday, the Iranian foreign ministry announced it has targeted nine individuals for “their involvement in terrorist acts”.

These, among others, include George W Casey Jr, former Chief of Staff of the US Army and Commanding General of Multi-National Forces in Iraq; Joseph Votel, former commander of the United States Central Command; former attorney to Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani; and several current and former American diplomats in Palestine and Lebanon.

The foreign ministry also blacklisted 15 individuals for “gross violations of human rights”.

This list mainly includes people who helped impose and expand punishing US sanctions on Iran during the Trump and Obama administrations.

Several former treasury department officials and several top executives at Kharon, a data analysis and consultancy firm, were also blacklisted.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates that the promulgations and application of Unilateral Coercive Measures is a stark violation of the fundamental principles of international law set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and a blatant transgression of international law and impede enjoyment of human rights,” the foreign ministry statement said.

The Obama administration imposed many sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme during its tenure. A 2015 nuclear deal with world powers lifted most of them, but Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-imposed those sanctions in addition to introducing new ones that continue to be imposed by the Joe Biden administration.

The sanctions, part of what US officials branded a “maximum pressure” campaign to bring Iran to a new deal, were intensified during the coronavirus pandemic.

Previously, Iran had announced sanctions on US officials on two occasions, targeting 60 individuals overall. Those included Trump, his top officials, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and dozens of officials representing US military and diplomatic interests across the region.

Prior to Saturday’s announcement, the sanctions had been primarily aimed at identifying people who played a role in the January 2020 assassination of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq.

The sanctions are thought to be largely symbolic as the named individuals are highly unlikely to have assets which could be seized by Iranian authorities and do not travel to Iran.

Iran, however, has been pursuing retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, with The Associated Press reporting last week that the US State Department spends more than $2m a month to provide 24-hour security for Pompeo and former Iran envoy Brian Hook, who face “serious and credible” threats.

The new sanctions come as indirect talks between Iran and the US to restore the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled in recent weeks.

In late March, the US imposed new sanctions on several entities that it said are involved in obtaining supplies for Iran’s ballistic missile programme.

Source: Al Jazeera