[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
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.