UK to target Iranian officials with new sanctions regime

Iran’s foreign ministry summons the charge d’affaires of the British embassy in Tehran over ‘interference’ in its affairs.

Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrives in Downing Street in London
The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly [File: Alastair Grant/AP Photo]

The United Kingdom’s government says it will establish a new sanctions regime against Iran that will give it greater powers to target decision-makers.

The existing punitive measures focus on human rights, but the proposals outlined on Thursday would widen the scope of criteria that the government could cite in bringing new designations in the future, including against those involved in weapons proliferation and threats against British nationals.

“The Iranian regime is oppressing its own people, exporting bloodshed in Ukraine and the Middle East, and threatening to kill and kidnap on UK soil,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement on Thursday.

“Today the UK has sent a clear message to the regime – we will not tolerate this malign behaviour and we will hold you to account. Our new sanctions regime will help to ensure there can be no hiding place for those who seek to do us harm.”

The Iranian foreign ministry summoned the charge d’affaires of the British embassy in Tehran over the “destructive British statements and interference in our affairs”, Iran’s Arabic-language television network Al-Alam reported on Thursday.

The UK government said that under the new regime, which will be legislated for later in the year, individuals and entities could also be sanctioned if they contributed to the undermining of peace and stability in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Britain also said it had given evidence at the United Nations Security Council that Iran was continuing to send weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as Russia to support its fighting in Ukraine.

Iran says it supports the Houthis politically but denies arming them. In November last year, the Iranian government confirmed for the first time that it had sold drones to Russia but said this was “months” before the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022.

Under the new British criteria, sanctions could also be targeted at those Britain says are involved in Iran’s undermining democracy and the rule of law in the UK, and hostile activities aimed at British people or property, or Britain’s allies.

Britain says Iran has made at least 15 attempts to kidnap or even kill UK nationals or individuals based in the UK since the start of last year.

“What we have seen over the last 18 months is an unprecedented level of aggression from Iran against people here in the UK, trying to silence dissenting voices,” Cleverly told reporters.

Source: Reuters