EU slaps human rights sanctions on Iran, warns of more over Ukraine

  • A crackdown on protests leads to EU punitive measures
  • Ukraine says Iran is supplying drones for Russia’s war effort
  • EU to gather evidence ahead of possible drone restrictions

Oct 17 (Reuters) – Several European Union foreign ministers on Monday called for sanctions on Iran over the transfer of an Iranian drone to Russia, as the bloc agreed to a separate set of asset freezes and travel bans in response to Tehran’s protests.

The sanctions and threats of more will increase pressure on Iran’s rulers, who have struggled to contain protests since the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman detained for “improper dress”.

Ukraine has reported Russian strikes in recent weeks, including Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones, which Tehran said on Monday were responsible for “the killing of Ukrainians”.

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Iran says it has not sent any drones to Russia since Moscow attacked Ukraine. The Kremlin has not commented.

“The use of Iranian drones to attack the center of Kiev is clearly an atrocity,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said as he arrived at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Rensaalu told Reuters he believed the sanctions should be “immediately lifted”.

Rensalu said that Kiev’s reports about the drone’s Iranian origin should be taken seriously, acting as a deterrent to show “its consequences”.

France and Germany, both parties to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, have also said new restrictions on drones are needed and drone transfers should be seen as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Prohibition crackdown

Although no detailed decisions were made – or expected – on Monday, according to two diplomats involved in preparations for the talks between the ministers, the EU could move towards imposing new sanctions on Iran over the matter.

“We are closely following the use of drones. We are gathering evidence and we are ready to react with the tools at our disposal,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a news conference after the ministerial meeting.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers have put 11 Iranians and four organizations on a travel ban and asset freeze list, including the head of Iran’s ethics police, for their role in cracking down on protests after Amini’s death.

Borel tweeted, “Unanimously decided today to take action against those responsible in #Iran for the death of #MahsaAmini and the violent suppression of peaceful protests.”

Tehran says it is maintaining order against foreign-provoked troublemakers.

Additional EU sanctions on Iran will not be limited to blacklisting certain individuals if Tehran’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine is proven, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.

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Writing by Sabine Siebold, Marine Strauss, Gabriela Baczynska, Ingrid Melander, Editing by William McLean, Andrew Cawthorne and Andrew Havens

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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