Biden Vows to ‘Impose Further Costs’ on Iran for Assaulting Protesters

President Joe Biden said Tuesday the U.S. plans to “impose further costs” this week on Iran for assaulting protesters demonstrating against the government for the death of a young woman held in custody by the country’s morality police for failing to properly cover her hair with a hijab.

Biden, in a Twitter post, did not elaborate on what action the United States would take against the Tehran government.

He said, “The United States stands with Iranian women and Iranian citizens who are inspiring the world with their bravery. We’ll continue to support the rights of Iranians to protest freely.”

It was the second day in a row that the White House assailed Iran’s crackdown on protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22.

On Monday, Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “We’re alarmed and appalled by reports of security authorities responding to university students’ peaceful protests with violence and mass arrests.”  

Jean-Pierre said university students in Iran are “rightly enraged” by the death of Amini and said the arrests of the demonstrators are the type of events that prompt young people in Iran to leave the country “and seek dignity and opportunity elsewhere.”

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the widespread protests following Amini’s death are not the actions of “ordinary Iranians” as he accused the United States and Israel of planning the demonstrations.

The protests, now in their third week, have been met with a crackdown by police and security forces. A tally of government statements compiled by The Associated Press gave a death toll of at least 14 people with 1,500 arrests, while rights groups say at least 130 are dead with thousands arrested.   

Khamenei said the death of Amini was a “sad incident” and that he was heartbroken.   

Iran’s morality police arrested Amini in Tehran for allegedly not following the country’s strict dress code and she died in a hospital three days later after falling into a coma.   

The government said she died of a heart attack. Her family rejected that account, saying Amini had no history of heart problems and that she was instead beaten. They called for accountability.   

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week, “The only reason she’s not [alive] is because a brutal regime took her life and took her life because of decisions she should be making about what she would wear or not wear.”  

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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