US sanctions Iran's state broadcaster for 'censorship'



Washington: The US on Wednesday sanctioned four Iranian entities, including one state sponsored broadcaster, for their alleged censorship activities.

The US Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the US Department of State, named the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its director Ezzatollah Zarghami as subject to sanctions.

Iranian Cyber Police, Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) and Iran Electronics Industries (IEI) are the three other Iranian entities.

These censorship activities restrict the free flow of information in Iran and punish Iranian citizens who are attempting to exercise freedom of assembly and expression, the Treasury said.

"Our policy is clear so long as Iran continues to fail to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear programme, the US will impose tighter sanctions and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime," said David S Cohen, the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human right abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech," Cohen said.

Key provisions of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA) that go into effect today, expand the scope of sanctionable transactions with the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian financial institutions by restricting Iran's ability to use oil revenue held in foreign financial institutions as well as preventing repatriation of those funds to Iran.

Today also marked 180 days since the US President signed the TRA.

Section 504 of the TRA amends existing sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) that target the Central Bank of Iran, designated Iranian financial institutions and Iran's energy sector.

"At the 180-day mark, section 504 narrows the exception for countries that have significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian crude oil so that the exception now only applies to financial transactions that facilitate bilateral trade between the country granted the exception and Iran.

For the exception to apply to a financial transaction, funds owed to Iran as a result of such bilateral trade will now have to be credited to an account located in the country granted the exception and may not be repatriated to Iran," the Treasury said.

This provision will significantly increase economic pressure on Iran by restricting Iran's repatriation of oil revenue.

In addition to effectively "locking up" Iranian oil revenue overseas, this provision sharply restricts Iran's use of this revenue for bilateral trade and severely limits Iran’s ability to move funds across jurisdictions.

Any property or interests in property in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons in which the designated entities or individuals have an interest are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

PTI