UK announces tougher Iran sanctions regime

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has expanded the country's sanctions regime against Iran (LEAH MILLIS)

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has expanded the country’s sanctions regime against Iran (LEAH MILLIS)

Britain on Thursday announced plans for a tougher sanctions regime against Iran for alleged human rights abuses and hostile actions against its opponents on British soil.

The new sanctions regime will expand the existing sanctions imposed by creating new criteria under which individuals and entities can be hit.

They include all Iranian activities “undermining peace, stability and security in the Middle East and the world”, and “the use and dissemination of Iran’s weapons technologies”.

Russia has been accused of launching Iranian-made attack drones in Ukraine, while Tehran is a close strategic ally of Syria and supports Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

“The Iranian regime oppresses its own people, exports bloodshed to Ukraine and the Middle East, and threatens to kill and kidnap on British soil,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

“Today the UK sent a clear message to the regime: we will not tolerate this malicious behavior and we will hold you to account.

“Our new sanctions regime will help ensure there is no hiding place for those who seek to harm us.”

London accuses Iran of stepping up efforts to kill or kidnap suspected enemies of its regime, including in the UK.

It says Iran’s intelligence services have developed close relationships with organized crime gangs in Britain and across Europe to help target opponents.

Since the start of 2022, the UK has uncovered “more than 15 credible threats to kill or abduct British or UK-based individuals by the Iranian regime”, he added.

The latest measures add to those already taken regarding Tehran’s radical response to the protests that have rocked the Islamic republic since the September 2022 death in custody of Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old had been arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.

– “Credible threats” –

Protests swept across Iran following Amini’s death, with at least thousands of arrests since then, according to the United Nations and rights groups.

Ten months later, Iran was still punishing those suspected of taking part in the mass protests, according to a UN fact-finding mission that reported its findings on Wednesday.

“Strong penalties continue to be meted out to those involved in the protests, including for exercising rights protected under international human rights law,” said Sara Hossain, chair of the independent international fact-finding mission, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Frighteningly, seven men have already been executed following rushed proceedings marred by serious allegations of fair trial violations, including confessions extracted under torture.”

Since the start of the year, the UK has imposed dozens of asset freezes and travel bans, citing alleged human rights abuses, on Iranian individuals and organizations, including top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Tehran’s attorney general.

The United States and the European Union have also tightened their own sanctions.

On Thursday, the UK said it had sanctioned 13 more people, including prison governors overseeing torture and inhuman treatment, intelligence services and cyber organizations under existing rights sanctions powers of man.

In February, independent broadcaster Iran International TV said it had been forced to close its London studios due to an escalation of “Iranian state-sponsored threats”.

It followed the arrest of an Austrian man near studios in south-west London, who was later charged with “gathering information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

The UK government has summoned Iran’s top diplomat to London for “serious threats” to the lives of UK-based journalists.

Meanwhile, the BBC has repeatedly complained of an ongoing campaign of threats and intimidation against journalists for its Persian-language service and their families at home and abroad, which it blames to Iran.


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