Iran: European Union tightens sanctions

Status: 01/23/2023 1:58 p.m

After the recent executions in Iran, the EU has tightened its sanctions against the Islamic Republic. However, the classification of the Revolutionary Guards as “terrorist”, which Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock also called for, did not materialize.

According to the Swedish Council Presidency, the states of the European Union have agreed on new sanctions against Iran. These would be directed against “those who promote the suppression,” it said on Twitter without details of the measures.

Since mid-September, the leadership of the Islamic Republic has been using mass arrests and death sentences against demonstrators who are protesting against the government across the country.

Almost 100 names on the EU sanctions list

“The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful demonstrators,” said Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, whose country currently holds the EU Council Presidency.

According to the AFP news agency, which relies on diplomatic information, the EU foreign ministers in Brussels put a total of 37 other Iranian leaders and organizations on the sanctions list. A total of almost 100 names are on the EU sanctions list, including members of the Revolutionary Guards.

No classification of the Revolutionary Guards as “terrorist”

There was no decision to classify the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the elite unit of the Iranian armed forces, as “terrorist”. Tehran had warned the EU against such a step. “The Revolutionary Guards are terrorizing their own people every day,” said Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Brussels. However, according to Baerbock, putting them on the EU list of terrorist organizations is a “more than complex” undertaking. Baerbock himself had requested this step.

Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, also sees high legal hurdles for classification as a terrorist organization. In at least one member state, a court must convict the group of terrorism, said the Spaniard. “Then we can do our work at European level, but the court decision must come first.”

Is the EU paying too much attention to Tehran?

The Iranian opposition accuses the EU of being too considerate of Tehran. It is believed that Borrell wants to keep the door open for further negotiations on the nuclear deal with Iran. France and Belgium called on the EU to increase pressure on Tehran.

Iran is taking European citizens “hostage,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said. The governments in Paris and Brussels are demanding the release of their own nationals who have been held in Iran for months.

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