PARIS — European Union foreign ministers imposed on Monday sanctions that include a travel ban and asset freezes on 32 Iranian individuals and two entities over human rights violations. The decision was made during the ministers’ monthly meeting in Brussels.
Among others, the new EU sanctions list includes two Iranian ministers — Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili, accused of persecuting artists and filmmakers who did not support the Tehran regime, and Minister of Education Yousef Noori, who was responsible for the targeting and detention of students engaged in the protests.
Also on the list are the deputy commander and spokesperson of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), members of the Iranian parliament who supported crackdowns on demonstrators, police officials, judges and prison wardens and directors. The two entities sanctioned are the Law Enforcement Forces Cooperation Foundation and the Police Science and Social Studies Institute.
The new list brings the total number of Iranian individuals under sanctions to 196 and the tally of sanctioned Iranian entities to 33. A ban on exports to Iran of equipment that could be used for internal repression and to monitor telecommunications is also in place. Monday’s sanctions will go into effect the moment they are published in the official EU journal.
The European ministers also reiterated past calls on Tehran to stop the violent crackdown against peaceful protests, cease the use of arbitrary detentions as a means of silencing critical voices and release all those unjustly detained. They once again urged the Iranian leadership to end the use of death sentences to punish protesters.
Iran has been hit by a wave of nationwide protests after the death in September 2022 of Mahsa Amini, 22, in police custody, for "improperly" wearing her hijab. Iran has arrested at least 14,000 people during the protests, the United Nations said.
The EU did not blacklist the IRGC, despite past calls to do so by the European Parliament and senior officials in Germany and the Netherlands. European diplomats told Al-Monitor there was wide agreement among EU members that the time has not come for such a move, which would sever all communication channels between Brussels and Tehran.
Brussels is expected to adopt a 10th package of sanctions against Moscow later this week, which will mark one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Friday. In the framework of these sanctions, Brussels is expected to also sanction Iranian companies that manufacture or sell components used for the production of drones operated by the Russian army against the Ukrainian population. The adoption of these new measures would not require a formal ministerial meeting, only the consent of EU members. These measures against Iranian companies were announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her address to the European Parliament last week.