L.A. Times | September 29, 2010
By Paul Richter
Tribune Washington Bureau

The Obama administration Wednesday sanctioned eight senior Iranian officials for alleged human rights violations, as it sought to sharpen pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime while reaching out to his opponents in Iran.

The eight, who include the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, top security officials and prosecutors, were responsible for a variety of abuses since the disputed presidential election of 2009, U.S. officials said.

“On these officials’ watch, or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in announcing the penalties at the State Department.

The eight officials will have any U.S. assets frozen, and will be barred from receiving visas or doing business in the United States. While none of the Iranians officials are known to have sizeable financial ties to the United States, American officials said they hoped the moves would further discourage international businesses from doing business with Iran.

The United States and its allies have been imposing a series of economic sanctions on Iran over the last several months in hopes of persuading it to scale back its nuclear program. The United States and many other nations believe Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at acquiring the ability to build a bomb. Iran insists its goal is to generate power.

The eight officials sanctioned include Mohammed Ali Jafari, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls much of the Iranian economy, and one of his top deputies, Hossein Taeb.

The names appear to target one faction of Iran’s elite — the conservative hard-liners close to Ahmadinejad who are believed to have been behind the months-long crackdown against mostly peaceful Iranian protesters last year.

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