The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the State Department jointly sanctioned three Iranian security groups, including one previously designated for WMD proliferation, and a police chief Thursday, citing their role in human rights abuses since the disputed June 2009 elections.
The move comes after Iran's announcement Wednesday that it plans to triple production of nuclear fuel and increase uranium enrichment by 20 percent- moving the country closer to the ability to produce nuclear weapons.
The action against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basji Resistance Force (Basji) and Iran's national police and its chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, was taken pursuant a September 2010 executive order signed by President Obama blocking any Iranian government officials or entities engaging in human rights violations.
A U.S. Treasury statement accused the IRGC, formed in 1979 by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, of violent abuse of election protesters and mistreatment of political detainees. In 2007, the Treasury designated the IRGC for its role in advancing Iran's nuclear programs. The IRGC and its senior officials have been linked to material support of Hizballah, for which Khomeini still serves as a source of inspiration.
The U.S. has since continued to designate IRGC-linked groups and individuals. In February, the U.S. designated four companies affiliated with the IRGC. Last December, the Treasury announced the designation of the IRGC's financial networks.
The Basji, a paramilitary force under the IRGC, has been linked to attacks on university students, abuse of detainees and violent action against protesters. In February, the U.S. designated Basji commander Mohammed Reza Naqdi for his role in violence against post 2009 election protesters, which left 125 people dead.
Iran police chief Moghadam was specifically designated for his role in an attack and abuse of students living in Tehran University dormitories. Moghadam's forces, Iran's Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), have also been accused of abuse of and refusal to provide medical care to detainees at Kahrizak detention center.
Michael Posner, State Department Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said the new action demonstrates that "law enforcement agencies not only have a responsibility to enforce the law but also to live up to universal human rights commitments and Iran's own constitution."