By Sabine Siebold and Gabriela Baczynska
Oct 17 (Reuters) – The European Union prepared to slap sanctions on Iran on Monday over a human rights crackdown and several ministers warned of separate, new sanctions if Tehran’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine was proven.
The EU ministers are set to impose travel bans and freeze the assets of some 15 Iranians involved in the government crackdown that began last month against demonstrators outraged by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“We will launch … a sanctions package today that will hold accountable those who are responsible for the brutal crimes against women, youths and men,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters as she arrived at the meeting in Luxembourg.
“Amongst those listed is the so-called morality police – morality police being a misnomer, actually, if you see what crimes are committed there.”
Additional EU sanctions on Iran will not be limited to blacklisting some individuals should Tehran’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine be proven, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.
“Then it will be no longer about some individuals to be sanctioned,” he told reporters as he arrived for the EU meeting.
Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
“What we can see now: Iranian drones are used apparently to attack in the middle of Kyiv, this is an atrocity,” Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said, saying the EU had to take “concrete steps” in response to that, as well as Tehran cracking down on protesters at home.
France and Germany, both parties to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, have made it clear they believed new sanctions in connection to the drones used by Russia were necessary given that such transfers violated a resolution by the U.N. Security Council.
The EU could decide to move towards imposing new sanctions against Iran over the matter, according to two diplomats involved in preparing talks among the ministers, though no detailed decisions were expected on Monday.
“We will look for concrete evidence about the participation (of Iran in the Ukraine war),” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for the meeting, adding Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba would take part in the gathering.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Marine Strauss, Gabriela Baczynska, Writing by Ingrid Melander,Editing by William Maclean)