>> As the Iranian government struggles to contain protests sweeping the country, Washington is gathering details with an eye to slapping sanctions on individuals and groups involved in the crackdown. Reuters has learned the move is part of an effort by the Trump administration to quickly show support for the anti-government protestors.
Front and center is Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the sword and shield for the nation's clerical elite, which has deployed forces to three provinces to put down the protests. A senior US official told Reuters the current plan is to gather information and quote feed that into our sanctions designation machinery.
President Trump has authority to impose sanctions based on human rights abuses or preventing free assembly. The US has existing sanctions in place dealing with Iran's missile program and added more on Thursday. But broader sanctions against Tehran were lifted as part of the 2014 deal, reigning in Iran's nuclear program.
The official told Reuters the administration thinks the protests are partly inspired by public anger that Iranian funds unfrozen by the nuclear deal have been directed largely to the nation's security services and not to the poor and middle class. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has accused Iran's enemies of fomenting the unrest.