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13 Jan, 2021 18:45

US targets Iranian foundations under Supreme Leader’s control in latest sanctions hit

US targets Iranian foundations under Supreme Leader’s control in latest sanctions hit

The US has blacklisted two organizations controlled by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, citing alleged corruption among Iran's elite as the reason for the Trump administration's latest sanctions against the country.

Washington announced sanctions against two "purportedly charitable billion-dollar" organizations, the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order (EIKO) and Astan Quds Razavi (AQR), according to a Treasury Department statement on Wednesday.

"These institutions enable Iran's elite to sustain a corrupt system of ownership over large parts of Iran's economy," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

A spokesperson described EIKO as a "business juggernaut" that had "violated the rights of dissidents by confiscating land and property from opponents of the regime, including political opponents, religious minorities, and exiled Iranians."

They also said Khamenei had "direct supervision" of AQR and its "vast economic empire" across multiple sectors, which is subject to sanctions, along with multiple associated entities.

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The sanctions mean that any US assets of those targeted will be frozen.

The designations come in the penultimate week of Trump's administration, and are the latest among the US president's "maximum pressure" campaign of sanctions against Iran.

Washington has continued to target Tehran via an increasing raft of sanctions throughout the pandemic, despite calls for them to be eased in order to help the country get back on its feet after being hit hard by Covid-19.

Tehran is yet to respond to the latest US accusations, but has already hit out at Washington this week over US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's claims that it is harboring Al-Qaeda militants in a secret base.

America's top diplomat did not provide any concrete evidence backing up his assertion.

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Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blasted Pompeo's allegations as "warmongering lies" and said that US "declassifications" of information about Iran are "fictitious."

US-Iran relations have plummeted to an all-time low during the Trump administration, with tension building after the president withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

The US accused Tehran of breaching the deal despite UN watchdogs saying at the time that Iran was compliant.

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