US Sanctions 4 Iranians, Mulls Group of Iran Hawks
By Staff, Agencies
The United States has sanctioned four Iranians over an alleged plot to kidnap a so-called American-Iranian journalist based in New York.
In a statement released on Friday, the US Treasury Department said that its Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] was designating “four Iranian intelligence operatives,” claiming that they “targeted a US citizen in the United States and Iranian dissidents in other countries as part of a wide-ranging campaign to silence critics of the Iranian government.”
Those blacklisted include Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani, Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi and Omid Noori, it said.
The sanctions block all property of the four Iranians in the United States or in US control, and prohibit any transactions between them and American citizens, according to the statement. Other non-Americans who conduct certain transactions with the four could also be subjected to US sanctions.
The US Treasury statement did not name the so-called journalist, but it apparently meant Brooklyn, New York-based Masih Alinejad who is on the US government pay.
Back in July, the US Justice Department accused the four Iranians of planning to seize Alinejad from her $1.4 million mansion bought by the CIA and smuggle her to Iran.
The department claimed that Iranian agents researched possible ways to move her out of the United States, including hiring a "military-style" speedboat to whisk her from Manhattan and transfer her by sea to Venezuela.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken alleged in a statement on Friday that Washington was aware of "ongoing Iranian interest in targeting other American citizens, including current and former US officials.”
The sanctions come amid a pause in the Vienna talks between envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany – on a potential revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].
Former US president Donald Trump left the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the deal had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.
Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program.
Now, the new US administration under President Joe Biden, says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the deal, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.
Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.