UPDATED: EU ministers agree on new package of sanctions against Iran

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BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) – EU ministers on Monday agreed on a new package of sanctions against Iran, the Swedish EU presidency said.

“Ministers adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression. The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters,” the presidency said in a tweet, without giving further detail.

Sources told Reuters last week that EU foreign ministers would add 37 individual entries to the EU’s sanctions against Iran at their meeting on Monday.

The European Union cannot list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that they are, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Monday.

EU foreign ministers are however set to add 37 names to the bloc’s list of people and entities subject to sanctions over human rights violations in Iran, two European diplomats told Reuters last week.

The European Parliament has called on the EU to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, blaming it for the repression of domestic protests and the supply of drones to Russia.

(FILE) – Iranian revolutionary guard soldiers march during a military parade in Tehran, Iran. EPA-EFE/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH

“It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you,” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.

He added that the court of an EU member had to issue a concrete legal condemnation before the EU itself could act.

The IRGC was set up shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system and provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces.

It has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units. It also commands the Basij religious militia, a volunteer paramilitary force loyal to the clerical establishment which is often used to crack down on anti-government protests.

Relations between EU member states and Tehran have deteriorated as efforts to revive nuclear talks have stalled. Tehran has also detained several European nationals and the bloc has become increasingly critical of its continuing violent crackdown on protesters and the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.

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