US Sanctions Iran over Child Soldier Recruitment

US Sanctions Iran over Child Soldier Recruitment

Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 - 18:45
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States imposed sanctions against Iran on Tuesday over its support for a network that supports the recruitment and training of child soldiers for its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Treasury sanctioned the multi-billion-dollar Bonyad Taavon Basij network that provides financial infrastructure to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that works for IRGC.

Both Basij groups were targeted by the new sanctions.

“This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Basij is involved in violent crackdowns and serious human rights abuses within Iran, the statement said.

It recruits and trains fighters for the IRGC-Quds Force, including Iranian and Afghan refugee children as young as 12 years old, who then deploy to Syria to support the regime of Bashar Assad, it said.

"The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real world humanitarian consequences. This helps fuel the Iranian regime's violent ambitions across the Middle East."

The designations highlight that “this Iranian regime is not a normal government,” a senior administration official said. “Normal governments don’t have revolutionary arms that support revolution and wreak havoc with their neighbors. They don’t recruit indoctrinate and use child soldiers.”

The sanctions were imposed on Bank Mellat, Mehr Eqtesad Bank, Mehr Eqtesad Iranian Investment Co and five other investment firms, the Treasury said.

The sanctions also target Iran Tractor Manufacturing Co, the Middle East’s largest tractor manufacturer, and Esfahan’s Mobarakeh Steel Co, the largest steelmaker in the Middle East and North Africa region, Treasury said.

The sanctions are part of the US economic campaign to pressure Iran to radically alter its policies, including developing ballistic missiles, supporting regional militant groups and violating human rights.

The announcement came two weeks before the Trump administration reimposes some of the United States’ harshest sanctions against Iran, including its oil sector.

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