Targets of the UK sanctions included Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili, Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani and Iranian police spokesman Saeed Montazer Al-Mahdi.
“Today’s sanctions on those responsible for Iran’s oppressive laws send a clear message that the UK and our partners will continue to stand with Iranian women and call out the repression it is inflicting on its own people,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
The European Union added to its own blacklist four Iranian officials – a commander in the elite Revolutionary Guard, two regional police chiefs and a prison boss.
Prisoner deal draws fire
Hoping to keep pressure in place, the US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed, nearly unanimously, a bill in honour of Ms Amini that would make it difficult to remove sanctions against top officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The anniversary comes as the United States and Iran complete a deal to release five detained US citizens in exchange for the unfreezing of US$6 billio (S$8 billion) of Iranian funds.
The US citizens, one of them detained for nearly eight years, are expected to be released next week, with the United States also freeing five Iranians.
Mr Biden’s Republican critics have savaged the deal as a “ransom” that would enrich a hostile regime. Iran earned the US$6 billion by selling oil to South Korea, which froze the funds out of fear of US sanctions imposed by previous president Donald Trump.
“When it comes to getting Americans out of jail and back home who’ve been unjustly detained anywhere in the world, I’m happy to take any criticism that comes my way,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday.
He said the money transfer was a “sensible arrangement” and that the funds will be restricted through an account in Qatar to humanitarian uses, although Tehran insists it can use the money as it wishes.
Mr Blinken also said that the United States was “not engaged in discussion or negotiation” with Iran over its contested nuclear programme.
Diplomacy to restore a moribund 2015 nuclear accord that promised major sanctions relief to Iran collapsed a year ago as attention turned to supporting the protesters.
Under the 2015 agreement, trashed by Trump but still backed by European powers as well as Russia and China, sanctions related to Iran’s weapons programs are set to expire in October.
The European Union, France, Germany and Britain said together Thursday that they would maintain the sanctions beyond Oct 18, provoking a protest by Iran. AFP
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