The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iranian officials and companies over accusations of serious human rights abuses, stepping up pressure on Tehran over its crackdown on protests as Washington marks International Women’s Day.
The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on two senior Iranian prison officials it accused of being responsible for serious human rights abuses against women and girls.
Washington also put sanctions on Iran’s top army commander, a senior official in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an official tied to the Iranian government’s efforts to block internet access. Also hit with sanctions were three Iranian companies and their leaders who have enabled law enforcement repression, according to the statement.
The step marks the 10th round of such U.S. sanctions since Tehran’s crackdown on protests that began after Mahsa Amini, a woman from Iran’s Kurdistan region, died in September in the custody of the morality police who enforce strict dress codes.
The protests by Iranians from all walks of life mark one of the boldest challenges to the ruling theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran accuses Western powers of fomenting the unrest, which security forces have met with deadly violence.
“The United States, along with our partners and allies, stand with the women of Iran, who advocate for fundamental freedoms in the face of a brutal regime that treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means,” U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.
“We will continue to take action against the regime, which perpetuates abuse and violence against its own citizens -especially women and girls,” Nelson added.
The Treasury said it acted in concert with the European Union, Britain and Australia to mark International Women’s Day.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wednesday’s move freezes any U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
The United States has imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials and companies in an effort to further pressure the Iranian government. The targets of these sanctions include senior Iranian officials, businesses involved in terrorism, and entities that have blocked access to the internet.
The US Departments of Treasury and State announced the new sanctions on Monday, saying they would be imposed in coordination with Britain and Canada. The targeted officials include the Minister of Intelligence and Security, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, and other senior officials, who will be subject to secondary sanctions and will be blocked from accessing the US financial system.
Additionally, the US has sanctioned several companies and organizations that are said to be involved in terrorist activities and those that have blocked access to the internet in Iran. These companies and organizations include Mahan Air and the Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) which were both previously sanctioned in May of this year.
The US government is hoping that these new sanctions will help to impede Iran’s ability to fund terrorism and limit its ability to control access to the internet. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo further stated that the sanctions are intended to send a clear message that the US will not stand idly by while the Iranian regime continues to oppress its people.
The US government has been steadily increasing its sanctions on Iran since the Trump Administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. This latest round of punitive measures will undoubtedly continue to add to existing economic pain in the country and further increase the pressure on its government.