The sanctions would ban travel to Iran and allow authorities to freeze bank accounts and seize property in Iran. Those targeted will likely have neither, making the move largely symbolic.
The move came two days after the European Union extended its sanctions to dozens of Iranian officials and organizations involved in the violent crackdown on recent protests. Despite an appeal from the European Parliament, it did not label the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.
In a separate development on Wednesday, Iranians experienced a brief nationwide internet outage lasting about 10 minutes. Authorities said they were investigating the cause of the outage.
Iran has cut off internet access on several occasions since the protests began four months ago, making it difficult for activists to organize and share information. Authorities have also severely restricted media coverage of the unrest.
Iran has long been under heavy US and European sanctions over its disputed nuclear program and support for regional militant groups. The nuclear sanctions were lifted under a landmark 2015 agreement with world powers, but President Donald Trump reinstated them after unilaterally pulling the US out of the deal.
Iranians have taken to the streets since September over the death of a 22-year-old woman who was arrested by vice squad for allegedly violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
The demonstrations have called for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy and represent one of the biggest challenges facing the ruling clergy since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power. Human rights groups say security forces have used live ammunition, bird shots and beatings to disperse protests.
At least 527 protesters have been killed and more than 19,500 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely followed the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official tally of the number of deaths or prisoners and have blamed foreign powers for the protests and violence without providing evidence.
The protesters say they are tired of decades of social and political oppression by a church leadership they see as corrupt and incompetent.