Iran blasts US for latest sanctions move
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran condemned the latest U.S. sanctions slapped this week on eight Iranian officials and claimed they reflect American interference in Tehran's domestic affairs, the state TV reported Friday.
Washington imposed travel and financial sanctions on the eight Iranians on Wednesday, accusing them of taking part in human rights abuses during the turmoil following Iran's June 2009 presidential election.
Iranian state TV said the new sanctions were evidence that Washington has been supporting the postelection unrest. It cited foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying "this proves the U.S. supports lawbreaking ... activities" in Iran.
Iran is already under four sets of U.N. sanctions for failing to account for its nuclear program, and the European Union and U.S. Congress have imposed punishing measures of their own to discourage Tehran from continuing its uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, aimed solely at producing nuclear energy.
The eight Iranians sanctioned in the latest U.S. measure include Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard, and one his top deputies, Hossein Taeb, as well as intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi. Jafari is already subject to the U.S. sanctions related to the nuclear program.
The move bars the eight, none of whom are believed to have substantial assets in U.S. jurisdictions, from entering the United States, blocks any of their U.S. assets and prohibits Americans from doing business with them.
It's the first time Washington has imposed sanctions on Iranians for violating human rights.
The Obama administration said that forces under the command of Jafari and Taeb participated in beatings, murder and arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters in the aftermath of the June 2009 vote.
Mehmanparast said the latest sanctions reflect U.S. pressures on Iran and warned that Tehran would pursue the case through international bodies. He didn't elaborate.
He further claimed the U.S. "abuses the concept of human rights" for political gains, and said the White House's decision was aimed at sowing discord between the Iranian people and their government.
On Thursday, the foreign ministry summoned the top Swiss envoy in Tehran to protest the sanctions. The Swiss embassy represents American interests in Iran because Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The Iranian government cracked down brutally on opposition supporters who took to the streets to denounce President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re–election, which the opposition says happened through massive vote fraud.
Thousands have been detained and scores have gone on trial. The courts have sentenced more than 80 opposition figures to prison terms, with their sentences ranging from six months to 15 years. Ten were handed the death sentence, still under appeal.
The White House portrayed the sanctions as a reflection of U.S. efforts to support peaceful change in Iran.
On Thursday, Washington slapped separate sanctions on a Swiss–based Iranian company involved in Iran's oil and gas sector and claimed success in persuading several European energy firms to divest from the country.
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