The United States Wednesday slapped new sanctions on a raft of Iranians including prison governors, intelligence officials and suspects in Internet disruptions.

Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, released a statement saying Washington would “continue to impose costs on individuals and entities in Iran who engage in the brutal repression of the Iranian people.”

The US Treasury, in a separate statement, said it was sanctioning officials in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, including its intelligence chief, and prisoner governors including Hedayet Farzadi, whom it named as warden of Tehran’s Evin prison, which has housed dual-national prisoners including still-held businessman Siamak Namazi. Heshmatollah Hayat Al-Ghaib, director-general for prisons in Tehran province, was also named.

The Treasury cited two officials in the south-east province of Sistan-Baluchistan, where Iranian security forces killed more than 80 Baluch residents during protests on September 30. Blinken’s statement cited Mohammed Reza Mirheydary, “chief of police in Isfahan Province…for his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of peaceful protestors during the November 2021 protests in Isfahan.” The Secretary of State noted that Mirheydary was now ineligible for entry into the US.

‘Disrupting communication’

The Treasury Department designated the Ravin Academy, which it said “trains individuals in cyber-security and hacking,” as well as Samane Gostar Sahab Pardaz, a company in the same field. Blinken’s statement alleged some trained at Ravin had “been involved in directly disrupting the communication of those protesting against the Iranian regime.”

A woman who was shot during protests by 'birdshots' fired from a police shotgun

The designations allow the US authorities to seize any assets held in the US and to sanction anyone – American or third-party – dealing with them. US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions already threaten punitive action against any person or entity worldwide in contact with the Iranian financial system.

Blinken gave Wednesday’s total number of designations as 14 individuals and three entities, so “demonstrating our commitment to use all appropriate tools to hold all levels of the Iranian government to account.”

In September the US designated several Iranian companies over involvement in alleged supply of drones to Russia, ten involved in Iran’s energy exports, and Iran’s ‘morality police’ following the September 14 death in custody of a young woman.

‘Hypocritical statements’

After being sanctioned last week by the European Union over the alleged supply of drones to Russia, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, suggested his seized assets should be used to “buy coal” for the coming winter – a reference to fears over diminished Russian energy supplies.

Analysts have pondered the likely effects of extending sanctions on talks, currently frozen, to restore the 2015 agreement – the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) – limiting Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian Wednesday said US officials were making “hypocritical statements in the media in a way that contradicts their diplomatic messages.”

Special envoy Rob Malley recently told CNN US policy was “not of regime change instigated from Washington.” Officials have said that while talks remain the best way to revive the JCPOA, this was not their “main focus.” There have been no reports lately of parallel talks for a prisoner-swap, possibly including Namazi, with some analysts suggesting contacts are on hold pending the US Congressional elections November 8.

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