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EU sanctions Iran Revolutionary Guard head, other top Iranians over drone transfers

Dozens added to bloc’s blacklist, including interior minister, Guards air force chief, UAV-maker and ‘morality’ cops who took part in arrest of Mahsa Amini

Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked Iran's biggest antigovernment movement in over a decade, in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2022. (Frame grab from video taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran/AP Photo)
Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked Iran's biggest antigovernment movement in over a decade, in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2022. (Frame grab from video taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran/AP Photo)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union on Monday hit more than 30 senior Iranian officials and organizations with sanctions over the crackdown on protesters and supply of drones to Russia.

The bloc targeted Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi and the head of Iran’s ground forces Kiumars Heidari, among those it said were responsible for the repression of demonstrations after the death of Mahsa Amini.

Four members of the squad who detained Amini were also put on the blacklist.

Among the organizations hit was state broadcaster Press TV, which was accused of of airing “forced confessions of detainees.”

“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable violent crackdown of protesters,” EU chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“We stand with the Iranian people and support their right to protest peacefully and voice their demands and views freely.”

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami addresses during the funeral ceremony for five members of the Guard killed in Syria, in Tehran, Iran, August 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, file)

Tehran has warned of a “proportionate and firm” response to the EU over the expanded sanctions.

Last month, the EU hit Iran’s “morality” police, Revolutionary Guard, and IT minister in a first wave of sanctions over the crackdown.

The EU ministers meeting in Brussels also signed off on adding the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami to a blacklist over supplies of Iranian drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.

The bloc also included the head of the Guard’s air force Amir Ali Hajizadeh and the Qods drone-maker.

The EU last month already slapped asset freezes and visa bans on another Iranian drone-maker and three top military officials over deliveries of kamikaze drones used to strike Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

A senior EU official said the bloc was probing reports over the possible delivery of ballistic missiles by Iran to Russia and would sanction Tehran further if it sent the arms.

Borrell said so far that Brussels had “no evidence” over the supplies of ballistic missiles.

This undated photograph released by the Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate shows the wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine. (Ukrainian military’s Strategic Communications Directorate via AP, File)

Brussels has faced a tricky balancing act over its response to Tehran, as the EU is mediating a push to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Those efforts to get Iran and the United States back onboard with the agreement have largely stalled.

“It is not in a good track, you know, stalemate, but the work continues,” Borrell said.

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