The US is expected to issue new sanctions this week against law enforcement officials and those directly involved in the crackdown on protests in Iran, a source familiar with the planned movement told CNN.
President Joe Biden, who has moved quickly to throw his support behind the demonstrators, issued an intentionally vague statement Monday promising further costs “on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors.” A source told CNN those costs are expected to be in the form of additional sanctions this week, with more action to potentially follow.
The massive protests sweeping Iran were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by morality police on September 13 after being accused of violating the country’s conservative dress code. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Biden alluded to the protests over her death and said the US stood with the “brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”
Days later, the US announced sanctions on Iran’s morality police “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors.”
The effort to move quickly to respond to the protests sweeping Iran comes after some top officials in the Biden administration acknowledged that the US was too slow to respond when protests erupted in Iran in 2009. Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser who served in the Obama administration, told NBC recently that officials were concerned about undermining the protesters instead of aiding them.
“What we learned in the aftermath of that is that you can overthink these things, that the most important thing for the United States to do is to be firm and clear and principled in response to citizens of any country demanding their rights and dignity,” Sullivan said.
“And so right after these protests broke out our administration began speaking out, and the President in fact went to the well of the United Nations and said that the United States stands with the citizens of Iran, the women of Iran, as they demand their rights and their dignity and a better future in Iran.”
Biden also said Monday the US was working to make it easier for Iranians to access the internet, “including through facilitating greater access to secure, outside platforms and services,” though officials have acknowledged the difficulty in doing so.
“It is clear that the Iranian government is afraid of its own people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said. “Mahsa Amini is senselessly, tragically dead, and now the government is violently suppressing peaceful protesters rightly angry about her loss.”