According to a report from Reuters, the European Union is set to sanction several Iranian officials over alleged human rights abuses, which would be the first such measures since 2013.
Citing three unnamed European diplomats, the report said the sanctions are expected to be agreed on Wednesday. If implemented, the sanctions would come at a sensitive time, as a possible revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, is still on the table.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, claims he is working to restore the JCPOA, but sanctions from the EU will not help the situation. The diplomats who spoke to Reuters denied that the sanctions have any relation to the JCPOA.
But the Reuters report said the EU avoided human rights sanctions on Iran since the JCPOA was signed out of fear of angering Tehran and jeopardizing the agreement, so the timing is suspicious and raises questions about US influence.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has coordinated with the EU on sanctions against Russian and Chinese officials. Earlier in March, the US slapped sanctions on two Iranians for alleged human rights abuses.
While the EU hasn’t sanctioned Iran over alleged rights abuses since 2013, in 2019, the EU targeted a unit of Iran’s intelligence agency with sanctions over alleged assassination plots.