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U.S. Unveils 'Rights Sanctions' Against Iran

Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari is among those targeted by the new U.S. sanctions.
The United States has announced unprecedented economic sanctions aimed at punishing eight Iranian officials for human rights abuses since last year's disputed elections.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the measures, saying the goal was "acute" and "severe" economic consequences for actions by those officials during the postelection crackdown.

President Barack Obama's executive order represents the first time Washington has targeted Iran with sanctions over perceived rights violations against its own citizens.

Geithner said that the narrow scope of the move makes it "much get around this."

The sanctions ban Americans from doing business with Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and the current minister of intelligence, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, among others.

The new order also freezes any U.S. assets held by the eight officials, all of them either current or former members of the government or its security forces.

The U.S. Treasury Department issued a statement saying the officials in question "share responsibility" for excessive violence used against protesters -- some of which resulted in death -- during mass demonstrations against the June 2009 election results.

The White House called human rights "a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States" and said the United States "will always stand with those in Iran who aspire to have their voices heard."

Iranian authorities responded to huge street protests after Mahmud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in the June 2009 presidential election with brutal sweeps, thousands of detentions, and mass televised trials. Opposition leaders and rights groups have alleged that detainees have been subjected to abuses that include physical and psychological torture and rape.

In addition to Jafari and Najar, the individuals singled out in the executive order are: Minister of Welfare and Security and former Minister of the Interior Sadeq Mahsouli; Prosecutor-General and former Minister of Intelligence Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei; former Prosecutor-General of Tehran Said Mortazavi; Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi; the deputy chief of Iran's National Police, Ahmad-Reza Radan; and Hossein Taeb, deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence and former Commander of IRGC's Basij Forces.

based on RFE/RL and Reuters reports