U.S. targets Iran’s interior minister in latest round of sanctions (

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli speaks during a press conference on September 29, 2019.

Haidar Hamdani | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Treasury announced Wednesday that it will sanction Iran’s interior minister for human rights abuses, the latest move in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.

The new penalties targeted a dozen individuals, including Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, according to the Treasury notice. The sanctions also target three entities, including two prisons as well as a law enforcement group.

“We have reason to believe Minister Rahmani Fazli gave carte blanche orders authorizing Iranian police forces to use lethal force on peaceful protestors and bystanders,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “His orders led to the killing of many protestors, including at least 23 minors,” the nation’s top diplomat added.

Treasury also targeted Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces, LEF, for the violent suppression of peaceful protests and for operating detention centers.

“The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The LEF, separately sanctioned for supporting the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, also uses its detention centers to recruit fighters for Iranian militias, according to Treasury.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared following Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.

The 2015 nuclear agreement lifted sanctions on Iran that crippled its economy and cut its oil exports roughly in half. In exchange for sanctions relief, Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program and allowed international inspectors into its facilities.

Tehran has said it will not negotiate with Washington while sanctions are in place.

Separately, Pompeo is under scrutiny for his role in the firing of the State Department Inspector General. 

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