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Filed under: Latest News — admin     3:30 pm June 10, 2011

The United States on Thursday slapped additional sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses, targeting Tehran’s national police, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij militia.

“The United States stands with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights, their dignity and their freedom, and we call on the Iranian government to end its systematic human rights abuses and political hypocrisy,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in announcing the sanctions.

“Today’s sanctions reflect our commitment to hold accountable those governments and officials that violate human rights and deprive their citizens of the opportunities and future they deserve,” she said.

Clinton labeled the three sanctioned entities “complicit in the ongoing brutal repression” of those who want to speak out against the government.

The sanctions, which are separate from other US sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear activities, would freeze any of the security organizations’ assets in the US and deny visas.

Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, chief of the national police, was personally singled out in the sanctions.

The move came at the same time that Leon Panetta, current head of the CIA and nominated to be the next secretary of defense, testified about the ongoing threat posed by Iran at his confirmation hearing.

Responding to questioning from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), Panetta said that Iran continues to develop increased capabilities to deliver nuclear or other weapons through intercontinental ballistic missiles – although he declined to state in the open forum whether he believed Tehran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Asked about America’s preparations for the possibility of military strikes against nuclear facilities – in keeping with US President Barack Obama’s declaration that all options should be kept open – Panetta said: “In line with the president’s statement that we should keep all options on the table, that would obviously require appropriate planning.”

Panetta also assessed that though the killing of Osama bin Laden, which occurred under his watch at the CIA, had damaged al-Qaida’s capabilities, “they still remain dangerous.”

He later listed Hamas and Hezbollah among the terror groups that threatened America’s national security beyond al-Qaida.

“We have to continue to maintain a strong relationship with Israel,” particularly in light of the turmoil sweeping the region, he added.

Panetta, who is slated to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is expected to be confirmed without difficulty.

Source : Jerusalem Post

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