President Obama has issued an executive order invoking unprecedented sanctions against eight Iranian government officials identified by the U.S. Treasury Dept. as being responsible for or participating in human rights abuses.
Obama took the action largely in response to the arbitrary arrests, beatings, tortures, rapes and murders of persons opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government since the disputed Iranian elections held in June 2009.
"The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian Government decisions or advocates for transparency or even attempts to defend political prisoners is very troubling," said Sec. of State Hillary Clinton in a press statement. "And today, we are announcing specific actions that correspond to our deep concern."
The sanctions, to be enforced by the Treasury Dept., freeze any assets or property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons (including U.S. banks) in which the individuals listed in the sanctions have an interest. In addition, U.S. residents are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the named individuals, and the individuals listed in the order are banned from obtaining U.S. visas.
"We have found that when we single out Iran's bad actors and expose their illicit conduct -- banks, businesses, and governments around the world respond by cutting off dealings with these individuals, groups and businesses," said Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner in a press statement. "Our goal is to enact strong, innovative, and effective policies that will pressure Iran's leaders to abandon their dangerous course."