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Documents show EU’s planned new Iran sanctions list

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The EU is considering fresh sanctions against nearly 40 Iranian individuals and entities, according to draft documents seen by POLITICO.

The additional sanctions are being discussed as part of the EU’s ongoing response to Iran’s lethal crackdown on protesters following the death last September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after the country’s morality police detained her. The outburst of anger is considered one of the strongest challenges to Iran’s regime since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There are overall 27 EU documents, seen by POLITICO, which are called an “evidence pack,” as they include the information — mostly press reports — backing up the proposed sanctions.

According to the documents, there are 17 people the EU is thinking of sanctioning. They include regional governors, a lawmaker, a minister and a top official at the Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) World Service. The penalties would also target current and former officials in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has played a key role in the government’s repression.

According to the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights, Iran government forces have killed at least 481 people, including 64 children and 35 women, in recent months.

Included on the list is the Iranian sports minister, Seyed Hamid Sajjadi Hazaveh, who the document says is “responsible for pressurizing Iran’s athletes into silence, to prevent them from speaking out internationally against repression in Iran.”

It ties the minister to the treatment of Elnaz Rekabi, which has received considerable media attention. “He was personally involved in the case of Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian athlete climber that competed without hijab at the Asian Championship rock climbing competition in the fall of 2022.”

In December, the document notes, “it became clear that Elnaz Rekabi’s family home in Zanjan has reportedly been demolished.”

Among the 20 entities on the list are Iran’s Communication Regulation Authority (CRA), which “enforces the Iranian government’s requirements to filter Internet content through a spyware called SIAM” and the Ravin Academy, a body that has trained hackers “involved in directly disrupting the communication of those protesting against the Iranian regime.”  

Twelve regional corps of the IRGC are also included.

EU countries — led by Germany, France and the Netherlands — have separately been discussing whether to go further on the IRGC and label it a “terrorist organization.” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tweeted in support on Monday, saying the move “is politically important and makes sense.” France has also kept the door open to the idea.

The U.S. has already designated the IRGC as a terrorist group and the U.K. is set to follow suit soon. Iran earlier this year tried to roll back the U.S. move, making it a condition of reviving a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and several Western powers.

The new EU sanctions are expected to be finalized shortly before going to EU ambassadors for discussion. EU foreign ministers are then aiming to sign off on the package at a meeting later this month.

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