[QODLink]
Europe
New EU economic sanctions target Iran
Foreign ministers agree on asset freezing and travel ban on 34 additional entities in oil, gas and financial sectors.
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2012 18:38
Iran acknowledges that the economy is suffering, in particular due to the cut in oil exports and production [EPA]

European Union foreign ministers have agreed a new round of tough new financial and trade sanctions against Iran aimed at forcing a breakthrough in stalled talks on Iran's contested nuclear programme.

The new package targets EU dealings with Iran's banks, shipping and gas imports.

"This is a sign of our resolve," William Hague, British foreign secretary, said on Monday in Luxembourg.

"That we will step up the pressure, we will intensify the pressure and we will continue to do so over the coming months unless negotiations succeed."

"Iran is still playing for time despite intensive efforts for negotiation in recent months."

- Guido Westerwelle, German Foreign Minister.

An EU asset freeze and travel ban will be imposed on 34 additional entities, particularly in the oil, gas and financial sectors, as well as on one person.

Details on those targeted will be released on Tuesday but a government minister is on the new blacklist, said diplomats.

The US welcomed the accord as further strengthening "international efforts to pressure and isolate the Iranian governmen".

"Rallying the world to isolate Iran and increase the pressure on its leadership so that they stop pursuing a nuclear weapon has been a top priority" under President Barack Obama, Jay Carney, White House spokesman, said.

Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, said: "Iran is still playing for time despite intensive efforts for negotiation in recent months."

"We don't see sufficient willingness so far for substantial talks about the nuclear programme."

'Room for negotiation'

Catherine Ashton, EU's foreign policy chief, said before Monday's meeting that there was still "room for negotiations" between Iran and the P5+1 - the UK, US, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The P5+1 have asked Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 per cent.

Citing "serious and deepening concerns" over Iran's nuclear drive, a statement approved by the ministers said the EU had "agreed additional restrictive measures in the financial, trade, energy and transport sectors".

In-depth coverage of a growing regional debate 

Previous sanctions, in particular a biting oil embargo that came into effect in July, are "quite clearly having an effect," she told reporters.

Under the package, the EU bans all transactions between European and Iranian banks unless authorised in advance by national authorities, for example for humanitarian or medical reasons.

It also tightens existing sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran.

Imports of Iranian gas will be prohibited, a symbolic gesture since the amounts involved are small, but the move sits alongside the much more significant July ban on imports of Iranian oil.

The package also bans the use of EU vessels for transporting or storing Iranian oil.

After long denying the impact of Western economic sanctions, Iranian leaders have changed their rhetoric.

They acknowledge that the economy is suffering in particular due to the cut in oil exports and production, the main source of the country's revenue.

526

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.