EU renews Iran rights sanctions
BRUSSELS - The European Union on Tuesday renewed sanctions against Iran over its human rights record, even as it relaxes damaging measures imposed on Tehran to force it to rein in its disputed nuclear programme.
"The Council (of member states) decided to extend until 13 April 2017 its restrictive measures against 82 people and one entity in view of the human rights situation in Iran," a statement said.
It said the 28-nation EU had imposed asset freezes and travel bans against Iran since 2011 over "grave human rights violations" and these measures have been regularly updated.
Last month, Iran reacted angrily to the latest United Nations report on human rights in the country, saying it was "biased, discriminatory and prepared with political motives."
The UN report noted, among other things, that in 2015 Iran carried out nearly 1,000 executions, "the highest rate in over two decades" and many of them juveniles.
The EU helped broker a landmark July 2015 accord with Iran whereby in return for an end to punitive economic sanctions, Tehran would ensure its nuclear programme did not produce a weapon.
EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini is due to visit Iran shortly to build on the nuclear deal amid continuing tensions over its ballistic missile programme and its role in the Middle East, especially in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels seeking his ousting.
Despite the easing of the nuclear sanctions, a whole series of UN and other measures remain in force against Iran, notably over its missile programme.