EU ministers to approve tighter sanctions on Iran

* EU ministers set to approve tighter sanctions on Iran

* New steps will block oil and gas investment

* Moves go further than U.N sanctions adopted on June 10

By Timothy Heritage

BRUSSELS, July 20 (BestGrowthStock) – European Union foreign
ministers will adopt tighter sanctions against Iran next week,
including measures to block oil and gas investment and curtail
its refining and natural gas capability, EU diplomats said.

A draft declaration prepared for a meeting of EU foreign
ministers showed they would approve a decision taken by EU
leaders on June 17 to adopt further sanctions over Tehran’s
nuclear programme, and also call on Iran to resume talks.

The measures, which go beyond steps approved by the United
Nations on June 10, are designed to put pressure on Tehran to
return to talks on its uranium enrichment programme which
Western powers believe is designed to produce nuclear weapons.

The draft declaration says the ministers, who meet in
Brussels on Monday, will approve the new sanctions “in
accordance with the European Council Declaration of 17 June”,
referring to the decision taken by EU leaders at a summit.

It said the measures were adopted “with a view to supporting
the resolution of all outstanding concerns regarding Iran’s
development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear
and missile programmes, through negotiation”.

The declaration is still to be endorsed by EU ambassadors,
meeting in Brussels this week, but big changes are unlikely.

The new EU steps focus on trade, banking and insurance,
transport including shipping and air cargo, and important
sectors of the gas and oil industry. [ID:nLDE66D0Y3]
[nHAF952304]

EU leaders said on June 17 the energy sector sanctions would
prohibit “new investment, technical assistance and transfers of
technologies, equipment and services related to these areas, in
particular related to refining, liquefaction and liquefied
natural gas technology”.

Iran denies its nuclear programme is aimed at producing
weapons and says it is for energy and other peaceful purposes.

INCREASING PRESSURE ON IRAN

The measures are intended to put strong financial pressure
on Iran, which is the world’s fifth largest crude oil exporter
but has little refining capability. [ID:nLDE66D05Z]

But diplomats have also acknowledged that the impact of the
sanctions will depend on steps to ensure compliance.

Traders said this month Iran was depending more on friendly
powers for fuel supplies because of the sanctions intended to
hinder its fuel imports, and was buying about half of its July
gasoline imports from Turkey and the rest from Chinese sellers
as most other suppliers had stopped selling. [ID:nLDE6671UA]

The foreign ministers will also back appeals by EU foreign
affairs chief Catherine Ashton for Iran to restart talks in
response to a July 6 letter from Iran’s chief nuclear
negotiator, Saeed Jalili, that proposed resuming dialogue.

“The Council (of foreign ministers) calls on Iran to seize
this opportunity to allay the concerns of the international
community about its nuclear programme and agree on a concrete
date for talks with the EU High Representative, together with
the six countries,” the draft declaration said. [ID:nLDE66D1SR]

It was referring to the six powers — the United states,
Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — that are involved
in discussions on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Jalili’s proposal was the first indication that Tehran is
willing to engage with world powers on its atomic programme
since the United Nations imposed its new sanctions last month.
[ID:nLDE666243]

The U.S. Congress has also drawn up its own set of measures
against Iran in addition to the U.N. sanctions package, parts of
which were watered down by Russian and Chinese opposition.

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EU ministers to approve tighter sanctions on Iran