E.U. Signals New Sanctions Against Iran Over Its Nuclear ProgramJun 14th, 2010
By STEPHEN CASTLE
LUXEMBOURG — The European Union is likely to agree on tough new sanctions against Iran that cover further investment in the country’s oil and gas industry as well as its financial sector, Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain said Monday.
His comments came ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s 27 heads of government Thursday in Brussels at which they are expected to agree on a formal statement on how to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
Last week, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that includes financial curbs and an expanded arms embargo. Companies and individuals were named, and the Iranian national shipping company was targeted.
“Sanctions are not the endgame,” Ms. Ashton said, adding that she was willing to negotiate with the Iranian government but only if it was willing to discuss the specific issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
The scale and scope of Europe’s action remains sensitive because several E.U. member states have significant business interests in Iran. Other nations, including Sweden, are skeptical about the principle of sanctions, arguing that they rarely work and that engagement usually produces better results.
After the Thursday summit meeting decides on the parameters of European measures, the list of restrictions may be agreed upon as early as next month.
Speaking at a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Mr. Hague said that the Thursday meeting would specify “various areas for additional sanctions.”
“There is a lot of support, including from the U.K., for those sanctions to include measures in the financial sector and on oil and gas investment,” he added.
Britain, France and Germany are advocates “of strong measures,” Mr. Hague said, rejecting the idea that Germany might be reluctant to jeopardize its commercial relationship with Tehran.
The U.N. resolution approved last week is the fourth set of sanctions imposed since 2006. The measures fall short of the action originally sought by the United Nations, but the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, nonetheless described them as the “most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced.”
Earlier measures have barred trade in sensitive nuclear material, frozen the assets of those involved in nuclear activities and brought about tougher scrutiny of Iranian bank transactions.
An effort last month by Turkey and Brazil to broker a deal with Iran was greeted without enthusiasm by many Western powers, including the United States. They argued that the plan would not halt uranium enrichment.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for civilian use only, not to make weapons, as the West and its allies fear.
Source: The New York Times