EU hits Iran with new round of sanctions; reaffirms commitment to support Afghans

March 20, 2023
At a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday,
At a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday,

BRUSSELS — European ministers extended sanctions against Iranian officials and entities accused of supporting a crackdown on protests ongoing in the Middle Eastern country since last autumn.

At a meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Brussels on Monday, the EU added an imam, a cleric and three judges to its sanctions lists.

The Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, an Iranian policy body, was also sanctioned for "setting limits" on women's clothing and education.

The sanctions come against the backdrop of alleged human rights violations amid protests. EU defense and foreign ministers also agreed on a €2 billion ammunition plan for Ukraine.

Attempts by the Iranian security forces to quell the months-long protests have seen hundreds of protesters killed and tens of thousands more detained.

A UN-appointed expert said earlier on Monday that violations committed by Iranian authorities may amount to crimes against humanity.

The nationwide protests ignited following the death of the 22-year old Kurdish Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022, while in police custody.

Sweden's pending request to join the NATO alliance was also raised during the Brussels meeting. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance was still aiming to admit the Nordic country "as soon as possible."

Also on Monday, ministers signed off on a plan to supply €2 billion ($2.1 billion) worth of ammunition to Ukraine. The bloc aims to deliver 1 million 155-millimeter artillery shells to Ukraine in the next 12 months as well as replenish EU stocks.

EU Chief Josep Borrell hailed the agreement as "historic" on Monday.

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council Monday reaffirmed the 27-member bloc's commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting the people of Afghanistan.

"A stable Afghanistan is in the interest of the entire international community to prevent regional instability, terrorism threats, forced displacement, and irregular migration," said the Council.

The EU stands ready to enhance support to Afghanistan's neighbors and partners across the wider region for the prevention of negative spillover effects, it said.

The Council welcomed the EU's presence in Kabul and underlined the importance of the work of the EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan in conveying the EU's position, including in dialogues with regional and international partners. — Agencies

March 20, 2023
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