The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for supporting terrorism, abusing human rights, and fueling unrest in Syria.
“Today we have designated the MOIS for abusing the basic rights of Iranian citizens and exporting its vicious practices to support the Syrian regime’s abhorrent crackdown on its own population,” David Cohen, the US Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
“In addition, we are designating the (Ministry) for its support to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hizbullah and Hamas, again exposing the extent of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism as a matter of Iranian state policy,” Cohen added.
Previously, US criticism of Iran was limited to accusations that weapons and advice was flowing between Tehran and its regional allies.
But in recent months, Iran’s nuclear program and its support for Hizbullah has led Washington to issue threats of economic sanctions for a series of attacks around the globe it says Iran perpetrated.
Thursday's announcement is the latest in a series of sanctions the United States has imposed on Iran over its nuclear program. Washington, its Western allies, Israel, and Gulf Arab states say Tehran is attempting to build a nuclear bomb.
However, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgress pointedly told US lawmakers at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that sanctions have proven ineffective.
“Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. While international pressure against Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program,” Burgess said.
Thursday's sanctions bar MOIS officials from travelling to the United States, freezes all property MOIS owns in the United States, and prevents US citizens or companies from dealings with MOIS.