The US has slapped sanctions on two senior Iranian officials for "serious" human rights abuses aimed at protesters who took to the streets in large numbers following the controversial 2009 elections in Iran.
The US Departments of Treasury and State named Hassan Firouzabadi, Chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff and Abdollah Araqi, Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Ground Force, under the sanctions for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses.
"The Iranian people have suffered tremendously at the hands of senior officials, who instead of protecting their basic rights have ordered and orchestrated widespread, serious human rights abuses aimed at silencing criticism and punishing dissent," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.
"In support of the Iranian people's quest for justice and accountability, we are taking further action today to expose the involvement of senior Iranian government officials in serious human rights abuses," Szubin said in a statement.
Widespread protests broke out in Tehran following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election triumph in the 2009 polls, which was accused of irregularities.
Assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Michael Posner, said the action underscores US' enduring commitment to hold accountable Iranian government officials responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses.
"Through today's designations, we affirm that we will take action against those who perpetrate such serious abuses.
"We will help Iranian citizens hold their government accountable to preserve and protect their human rights, as declared in their own law and international conventions to which the Iranian government is a party," Posner added.