European Union sanctions Iranian interior minister

The European Union on Monday sanctioned 29 Iranian officials, including the interior minister, and the public channel Press TV, accused of broadcasting “forced confessions” from detainees after the crackdown on protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini .

“Today we are imposing additional sanctions on those responsible for the repression of Iranian demonstrators”, announced the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell after the approval of these measures by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 27.

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, head of the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), is accused by the 27 of having committed “serious human rights violations” during the repression of demonstrations.

The EU also sanctioned the four members of the team who arrested Masha Amini and Iran’s cyberpolice chief Vahid Mohammad Naser Majid for “his responsibility in the arbitrary arrest of people for expressing online criticism of against the Iranian regime.

European sanctions further target Brigadier General Kiyumars Heidari, commander of the Iranian Army Ground Forces, and provincial leaders of the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) and Revolutionary Guard Corps. Islamic (IRGC).

The EU last month froze the assets and banned visas of officials from the “morality” police, the Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s information technology minister.

Tehran announced a “proportionate and firm” response. “We are ready for this eventuality, but it will be a mistake,” warned Josep Borrell.

European ministers also denounced Iran’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, with the delivery to Russia of suicide drones used to strike civilian energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

They sanctioned two entities, the Qods Aviation Industries which produces the drones supplied to Russia and the Revolutionary Guards air force, as well as two military officials of the Revolutionary Guards corps, Generals Hossein Salami and Amir Ali Hajizadeh.

The European Union last month imposed an asset freeze and visa ban on the Iranian drone maker and three senior military officials over the shipments.

Some member states are pushing for the EU to expand punitive measures regarding arms supplies to Russia.

A senior EU official said the union was examining reports of a possible delivery of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia and would further sanction Tehran if the weapons were sent.

Mr Borrell said he had “no evidence” to date regarding the delivery of ballistic missiles.

The EU is in a tricky exercise with Tehran as Josep Borrell plays a mediating role to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Efforts to bring Iran and the United States back on board the deal have largely stalled. “The deal is not on track, you know, it’s stalled, but the work is continuing,” Borrell said.

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