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U.S. announces new sanctions on Iran, even as it seeks a new nuclear deal : NPR


Iranian protesters demonstrate in Tehran on September 21, after Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the country’s so-called ethics police.

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Iranian protesters demonstrate in Tehran on September 21, after Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the country’s so-called ethics police.

AFP via Getty Images

The US announced new sanctions on Thursday targeting Iranian officials to punish “for continued violence against peaceful protesters and the shutdown of Iran’s Internet access.”

“We condemn the Iranian government’s repressive action against the people’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the shutdown of internet access. We will use the sanctions of the Iranian government. as long as Iran continues to disregard the rights of its people,” a State Department spokesman said Ned Price tweeted.

Thursday’s sanctions announcement comes after days of mounting pressure from activists demanding US support for the Iran protests, now in their third week, following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman. in the custody of the so-called moral police of the country. .

While the administration has taken some steps in response – mainly with sanctions – activists and analysts say its approach is tentative, as they also attempt to restore secure a major nuclear deal with Tehran.

Sanctions and technical assistance

President Biden said he sided with Iranian women and those who protested after Amisi’s death. His administration has imposed sanctions on the ethics police.

Meanwhile, Treasury Department grant licenses to exempt tech companies from some sanctions so they can try to increase web access for Iranians.

“It was a welcome move, but it took years for us to repeat this call,” said the Iranian-American human rights lawyer. Gissou NiaDirector of the Strategic Litigation Project at the Atlantic Council.

She has long argued that US sanctions make it difficult for Iranians to freely use the Internet, forcing many to communicate through Iranian government services, which the government regularly blocks and can scan for. out dissenters.

However, the current White House moves may take too long to make a difference for today’s protesters, she said.

Nia also worries that Iranians may not be able to pay for internet subscriptions because they don’t have credit cards that work in the international banking system. She is urging the US government to work with big tech companies to provide free services.

An Istanbul protester cuts her hair during a protest against the Iranian regime and in support of Iranian women on Sunday. Hundreds of people took to the streets in Turkey to condemn Iran’s crackdown on women-led protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by Iran’s so-called ethics police. .

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An Istanbul protester cuts her hair during a protest against the Iranian regime and in support of Iranian women on Sunday. Hundreds of people took to the streets in Turkey to condemn Iran’s crackdown on women-led protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by Iran’s so-called ethics police. .

Bulent Kilic / AFP via Getty Images

There are calls for the White House to change its approach to Iran

The focus of the Biden administration has been on trying to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief – before the Trump administration pulled out of the agreement.

“Total [Biden] The policy of the Iranian authorities is only about the nuclear negotiations and I think they have caught up a bit by now.” Hadi Ghaemiexecutive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Ghaemi said he has heard from human rights activists in Iran who are worried about the Iranian government getting sanctions right now, as it suppresses protesters with increasing levels of brutality.

The Obama administration has been criticized for not doing enough to prevent the Iranian government from quelling major protests in 2009. At the time, Obama sought better relations with Iran that led to the nuclear deal that year. 2015. Although he ended up being more vocal about the protests, Obama speak America will respect Iran’s sovereignty and let the Iranians choose their leaders.

American officials should have learned from that era, Karim Sadjadpour by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said that supporting Iranians demanding basic rights now is “without question.”

“This is one of those black-and-white issues in international relations that doesn’t happen very often,” Sadjadpour said, noting that women should not be “beaten or killed for wearing pants that are too tight,” said Sadjadpour. or not covered. hair.”

Calling for human rights violations

Foreign Office speak it’s appalled by Iran’s crackdown on protesters. But human rights activist Ghaemi says the US is still too timid. Both he and Nia say the Biden administration should push for more action at the United Nations in New York and at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Nia proposes to create a new UN mechanisms such as tracking abuses in Syria and Myanmar.

“Those agencies aim to document these violations, ensure that the evidence is kept and admissible in the courtroom,” says Nia.

That will be accountability in the future. At present, it is difficult to predict how the protest will unfold.

Sadjadpour says the regime will crush this movement and retain power – or the protesters will manage to change the regime.

“There is a huge difference between a regime ruled by old, traditional men and a society dominated by young, modern people who are fundamentally visionary,” he said. different from Iran,” he said. The US approach to Iran, he said, is similar to what it did with the Soviet Union – supporting dissidents even as the two sides negotiate arms deals.

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