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U.S. sanctions on Iran target Cyber Police

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) — New U.S. sanctions focus not only on Iran’s disputed nuclear program but also on its repression of internal dissent and information access, U.S. officials said.

The latest sanctions target the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which oversees Iran’s TV and radio channels, the Treasury Department said. Included in the sanctions is Ezzatollah Zarghami, IRIB’s director since 2004.

The sanctions also target the Iranian Cyber Police and the Communications Regulatory Authority.

The Cyber Police, part of Iran’s uniformed police force, filter websites, monitor online behavior, including at Internet cafes, and hack into email accounts of Iranians deemed to be subversive, the Treasury Department said. The CRA enforces Internet filtering and the blocking of websites Tehran deems objectionable, the department said.

Another sanctions target is Iran Electronics Industries, which makes equipment used for jamming, monitoring and eavesdropping, the department said.

Economic sanctions enacted in August 2012 that went into effect Wednesday impose new penalties on individuals and companies that work with Iran’s energy, petrochemical, insurance, financial and shipping sectors, the Treasury Department said in a separate statement.

The new restrictions make it more difficult for Iran to repatriate money it earns abroad from sales of oil, its most important export.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday international sanctions were forcing Iran to reduce its reliance on oil income, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.

He said besides finding ways of bypassing the sanctions’ impacts, the regime planned to cut non-essential spending, Fars said.

The U.S. sanctions are part of an effort to force Tehran to curb its nuclear program, which the United States and other powers, including the European Union and Israel, say is designed to give Iran the ability to make nuclear weapons.

Iran maintains the uranium-enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only.

Talks on resolving the dispute, stalled for more than six months, are set to resume in Kazakhstan Feb. 26.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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