Iran has called the new US sanctions targeting six individuals and one entity over alleged meddling in the 2020 US presidential elections “continuation of Trump’s failed maximum pressure policy”.
The US Treasury Department on Thursday sanctioned six Iranian nationals and a cyber-firm for “attempting to influence” last year’s US presidential elections.
It said “state-sponsored Iranian cyber actors” between August and November 2020 “executed an online operation to intimidate and influence American voters, and to undermine voter confidence and sow discord”.
In response early Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the move, calling it “desperate and illegitimate”.
The sanctions came a day after the US, British, and Australian officials issued an advisory, saying hackers from Iran have been targeting a “broad range of victims” inside the US, including by using ransomware.
The reports about Iran’s alleged interference in the 2020 US presidential elections date back to October 2020, when the US government publicly accused Iran, as well as Russia, of interfering in the hotly contested election, using information gathered on American voters.
At the time, Iran’s Foreign Ministry had rejected the allegations as “repetitive, baseless and false”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects the hackneyed claims and the fabricated, amateurish and deceitful reports from the US regime’s officials, stressing once again that it makes no difference to Tehran which of the two candidates would reach the White House,” the ministry said, days before the vote.
Importantly, the latest round of sanctions comes days before Iran and the US are set to resume indirect talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and to de-escalate tensions.
Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani on Thursday said the success of upcoming talks in Vienna depends on the other side’s “firm determination” and “practical readiness” to "remove sanctions".