US unveils new round of Iran sanctions, Pompeo pledges more to come

Targets in the latest round of sanctions include an Iranian charitable organization and Iran's intelligence minister.

al-monitor Iranian protesters gather around a burning car during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on Nov. 16, 2019. One person was killed and others injured in protests across Iran, hours after a surprise decision to increase gasoline prices. A crackdown on the protests, which extended into 2020, is estimated to have pushed the overall death toll to over 300 people. Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 18, 2020

The United States on Wednesday imposed one more round of sanctions on Iran, including a foundation linked to the country's supreme leader, and vowed more punitive measures are on the way.    

The State Department designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officials Heidar Abbaszadeh and Reza Papi for their alleged involvement in the violent suppression of anti-government protesters in November 2019.  

In the deadliest unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, widespread anti-regime demonstrations erupted across Iran last year over the government’s abrupt decision to significantly raise prices on gasoline. According to Amnesty International, at least 304 people died in the protests, including 23 children. 

The Trump administration on Wednesday linked the new sanctions to the massacre in the city of Bandar Mahshahr, which killed at least 148 people a year ago. According to the State Department, both protesters and bystanders were “targeted by snipers on rooftops, tracked down and surrounded by armored vehicles, and sprayed with machine-gun fire.”

In addition, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi was blacklisted for his “central role in the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses against Iranian citizens.” Sanctions were also imposed on the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation, or Foundation of the Oppressed, and 61 entities and individuals affiliated with the Iranian charity.

“While [the foundation] is ostensibly a charitable organization charged with providing benefits to the poor and oppressed, its holdings are expropriated from the Iranian people and are used by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to enrich his office, reward his political allies, and persecute the regime’s enemies,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

In a statement sent to reporters titled “The Importance of Sanctions on Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign of sanctions had been "extraordinarily effective" at countering Iran's malign behavior. 

“Throughout the coming weeks and months, we will impose new sanctions on Iran, including using our nuclear, counterterrorism, and human rights authorities, each reflecting the wide range of malign behavior that continues to emanate from the Iranian regime,” Pompeo said. 

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has rolled out a slew of sanctions on Iran, in what analysts say is an attempt to undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to salvage the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. 

Biden has said that if Iran returns to strict compliance, he would rejoin the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement as a starting point for negotiations. Trump withdrew the United States from the pact in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran. 

The current administration has recently targeted Iran’s banking industry and oil sector with sanctions and has blacklisted foreign companies accused of procuring goods for an Iranian military firm. In addition, the State Department is reportedly considering designating the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization. 

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