Luxembourg: The European Union imposed assets freezes and travel bans on 32 Iranian officials on Tuesday, saying they had been involved in human rights violations.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers that the 27-nation bloc wanted to hit back at the "appalling human rights record of Iran”.
He denounced the jailing of Iranian opposition leaders, the detention of more journalists "than any other country in the world”, and an "excessive use of the death penalty, often on vague charges”.
The EU "is agreeing today restrictive measures on 32 individuals in Iran we believe are responsible and instrumental in these policies," he said.
The measures were decided at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, following in the footsteps of the United States, which imposed similar sanctions in September 2010.
The list of names will soon be made public in the EU Official Journal.
The EU ministers had already agreed in principle to the sanctions in March, when they voiced concern about the "deterioration" of human rights in Iran.
They also voiced alarm over the "dramatic increase in executions in recent months and the systematic repression of Iranian citizens."
Iran has already been hit by a raft of sanctions imposed by the United Nations over its refusal to halt its controversial nuclear programme.
The United States and the European Union added their own unilateral sanctions on top of the UN measures last year.
Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran denies the charge, insisting its programme is a peaceful effort to produce civilian energy.
The United States hit eight Iranian official with sanctions last year, including current and former ministers, accusing them of committing serious human rights violations during the disputed presidential elections of 2009.
First Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:54