U.S. Sanctions Individuals and Entities in Iran, Syria Ahead of Renewed Nuke Talks

The latest sanctions were slapped onto members of Iranian special forces and Syrian intelligence officers ■ Iran's foreign ministry slams the decision, saying it won't buy the U.S. leverage in the nuclear talks

Reuters
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Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, in Tehran on September 22, 2018.
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, in Tehran on September 22, 2018.Credit: AFP
Reuters

The United States issued fresh sanctions on Tuesday against 15 individuals and four entities in Iran, Syria and Uganda, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

In Iran, the United States designated the Special Units of Iran's Law Enforcement Forces and Counter-Terror Special Forces, as well as several of their officials, and Gholamreza Soleimani, who commands Iran's hardline Basij militia. Two prisons and a prison director were also blacklisted over events that reportedly took place in them.

Iran criticized the United States for imposing new sanctions days before talks are set to resume in Vienna on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

"Even amid #ViennaTalks, US cannot stop imposing sanctions against Iran," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter. "Doubling down on sanctions won't create leverage - and is anything but seriousness & goodwill."

In an action marking the week of the U.S. Summit for Democracy, the Treasury Department said in a statement it was targeting repression and the undermining of democracy, designating individuals and entities tied to the violent suppression of peaceful protesters in Iran and deadly chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Syria, among others.

Washington also blacklisted two senior Syrian Air Force officers it accused of being responsible for chemical weapon attacks on civilians and three senior officers in Syria's security and intelligence apparatus, according to the statement.

The sanctions are part of a broader U.S. effort to sanction individuals connected to various branches of Iran's foreign military apparatus as well as that of its allies.

Indirect U.S.-Iranian talks on saving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will resume on Thursday in Vienna, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.

"We will continue the talks on Thursday ... and await practical steps by the West," Iran's top negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani was quoted as telling Iranian media during a visit to Moscow by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

Tasnim news agency earlier said Bagheri Kani finalized the date of the resumption of the talks after contacting European Union coordinator Enrique Mora.

The talks broke off on Friday as European officials voiced dismay at sweeping demands by Iran's new, hardline government.

In Eastern Europe, U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of economic consequences in the event of an escalation in the conflict with Ukraine during their video summit on Tuesday.

The White House said after the conversation that Biden expressed "deep concerns of the United States and European allies about Russia's escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine."

The US president reiterated his support for Ukraine's "sovereignty and territorial integrity" and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy, according to the White House.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also warned Moscow of further sanctions. Existing sanctions could be expanded or new punitive measures taken, she said.

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