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US Slaps New Sanctions on Iran Groups

US Slaps New Sanctions on Iran Groups

Friday, 23 October, 2020 - 04:00
A sign marks the US Treasury Department in Washington, US, August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The United States on Thursday slapped new sanctions on five Iranian entities for what it called "brazen attempts" to interfere with the US election.


The Treasury imposed the fresh sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC-Quds Force, the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media.


Stepping up pressure after US intelligence pointed the finger at both Iran and Russia, the Treasury Department accused the Iranian groups of seeking to spread disinformation and division ahead of the November 3 vote.


The groups have worked to "sow discord among the voting populace by spreading disinformation online and executing malign influence operations aimed at misleading US voters," it said.


Bayan Gostar, which the Treasury called an IRGC-Quds Force "front company" for propaganda, took the lead in the activities, it said.


Ahead of the election, "Bayan Gostar personnel have planned to influence the election by exploiting social issues within the United States, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and denigrating US political figures," it said.


"As recently as summer 2020, Bayan Gostar was prepared to execute a series of influence operations directed at the US populace ahead of the presidential election."


The two media groups were part of that operation, it said.


The announcement came one day after the US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe fingered Iran as behind recent emails addressed to US voters threatening them to support President Donald Trump and his Republican Party.


The accusations against Iran came after longstanding US concerns about the role of Russia.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged favoring Trump in the 2016 election and an investigation by former FBI chief Robert Mueller found evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Moscow, although he said he did not have enough to bring conspiracy charges.


Trump has repeatedly voiced anger at the "Russia hoax," describing it as a way to discredit his election victory.


While Trump has spoken fondly of Putin, his administration has been a sworn enemy of Iran's clerical regime, imposing overwhelming sanctions and withdrawing from a denuclearization accord negotiated by former president Barack Obama.


The Treasury Department separately Thursday imposed sanctions against Iran's ambassador to Iraq, where the United States has been working to fight Tehran's influence.


The Treasury said Iraj Masjedi was a "close adviser" to Qasem Soleimani, Iran's most powerful general, who was killed in January by a US strike.


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