U.S. tightens sanctions on Iran

Dec. 15, 2011 at 10:34 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The United States placed sanctions on two Iranian officials for human rights abuses committed after 2009 presidential elections, the U.S. State Department said.

Iranian authorities in the aftermath of disputed presidential elections in June 2009 arrested nearly 5,000 people. More than 100 activists were executed and opposition groups say at least 80 were killed in custody or on the streets.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Iran's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hassan Firuzabadi and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Deputy Commander Abdullah al-Argahi were sanctioned for human rights abuses.

"(They) bear personal responsibility, along with other conspirators, for the violent crackdown in the summer of 2009, which came as Iranians sought to peacefully express their civil and political rights as part of the Green Movement," Nuland said.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure overwhelmingly that would expand sanctions on Iran. The sanctions in part are a response to growing concerns over Iran's nuclear program.

"A nuclear Iran is simply unacceptable. I urge the Senate to take up these measures and send them to the president for his signature," U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. "Our national security is at stake."

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