The European Union increased its range of sanctions against Iran on Monday, including a ban of natural gas imports from the Islamic Republic. The move, announced by an EU press release, follows the sanctions on Iranian oil imports that took effect during the summer. Sanctions were also applied on the oil transportation, financial and metal industries.
The press release said the intensified steps were due to the Council of the EU’s “serious and deepening concerns” over Iran’s nuclear program, while highlighting their commitment to a diplomatic resolution of the crisis.
“Today’s decisions target Iran’s nuclear and ballistic programs and the revenues of the Iranian government for these programs,” said the press statement regarding the sanctions. “They are meant to persuade Iran to engage constructively by negotiating seriously and addressing the concerns of the international community. The sanctions are not aimed at the Iranian people.”
The EU has long sought substantial negotiations with Iran over the nuclear matter, but despite several rounds of talks between Tehran and the EU and others, no significant progress has been made.
In light of Iran’s expanding nuclear program, pressure has been mounting for a possible military attack from the US or Israel in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. However, both the US and Israel have declared that there is still time for a diplomatic solution.
Regarding the new EU sanctions on the Iranian financial industry, the only transactions that will be allowed between European and Iranian banks will be those authorized in advance by national authorities “under strict conditions.” The intention behind this step is to “ensure that EU financial institutions do not process funds that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear program or to the development of ballistic missiles.”
Said the EU statement, “The objective of the EU remains to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term settlement which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, while respecting Iran’s legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 16, 2012)