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U.S. issues sanctions for attacks on Iran election protesters

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Obama administration imposed new economic and travel sanctions on Iran's police and paramilitary forces for their role in violence against protesters after 2009 elections.

The sanctions, announced by the State and Treasury departments, singled out the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the domestic Basij and the Law Enforcement Forces, as well as Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the forces commander.

"Today's sanctions reflect our commitment to hold accountable those governments and officials that violate human rights and deprive their citizens of the opportunities and future they deserve," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.

The three groups were singled out because of their participation in attacks against protesters after the 2009 presidential election when incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated Mir-Hossein Mousavi in a vote that many said was marked by fraud.

The Revolutionary Guard Corps was sanctioned in 2007 over to its links to Iran's nuclear and weapons of mass destruction programs. Several Iranian banks also were sanctioned at that time, along with individuals who attempted to buy missiles and nuclear materials.

Mrs. Clinton condemned Iran's leadership for claiming to support democracy among groups fighting for freedom elsewhere in the Middle East while killing Iranian protesters at home. The secretary also noted Iran's history of harassing dissidents as a sign of Tehran's unwillingness to listen to calls for political reform.

The move by the Obama administration is largely symbolic. It freezes financial assets of the groups and prohibits contacts between them and U.S. citizens and businesses. It also blocks members of the groups, as well as Mr. Moghaddam, from visiting the United States.

President Obama hinted Tuesday after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that more sanctions could be imposed on Iran because of Tehran's refusal to abide by international controls on its nuclear program.

On Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano announced information indicating recent links between Iran's military and its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is limited to peaceful purposes.

The U.S., the European Union and the United Nations have imposed numerous sanctions on Iran, blocking the sales of nuclear materials and arms, as well as calling for the inspection of Iranian shipping.

The U.S. and other nations have imposed embargoes of many of Iran's economic goods. However, Russia and China refuse to support a U.N. resolution to sanction Iranian oil sales.

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