The UK government announced on Thursday that it has added 13 new individuals and entities to its list of sanctions targets under the Iran (Nuclear) Regulations 2019. The designations include senior officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and the Iranian judiciary, as well as entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and human rights violations.

The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said in a statement that the sanctions are part of the UK’s “dual-track approach” to Iran, which aims to “hold Iran to account for its systematic violations of human rights and its nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation activities, while also seeking to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and a diplomatic route to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

The UK’s sanctions regime against Iran was established in January 2020, following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. The regime is based on the EU’s sanctions framework, but allows the UK to impose additional measures independently. The UK has previously designated 78 individuals and entities under the Iran (Nuclear) Regulations 2019, including the IRGC as a whole, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi.

The new designations come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over the fate of the JCPOA, which was signed in 2015 by Iran and six world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. The US withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Iran to gradually reduce its compliance with the agreement. The remaining parties to the deal have been engaged in indirect talks with Iran in Vienna since April 2021, but have failed to reach a breakthrough so far.

The UK has expressed its commitment to preserving and restoring the JCPOA, but has also voiced its concerns over Iran’s violations of its nuclear obligations, as well as its destabilizing activities in the region and its human rights abuses at home. The UK has urged Iran to return to full compliance with the JCPOA and to engage constructively with the negotiations in Vienna.

The UK has also called on Iran to release all dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran, including British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held since 2016 on espionage charges.

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