EU leaders vow to target Iran with extra sanctions
European Union leaders endorsed a call to slap extra sanctions on Iran, adding to those decided upon last week at the United Nations Security Council, diplomats said at a summit in Brussels on Thursday, DPA reported.
Western powers suspect that Iran's nuclear programme is designed to create an atomic bomb, something that Tehran denies. As a result, the country has been the subject of several rounds of UN sanctions.
"New restrictive measures have become inevitable," leaders said in a draft statement seen by the German Press Agency dpa. EU diplomats said the final text was not likely to be changed.
UN Security Council resolution 1929 imposed a series of restrictions on Iran, including a ban on arms sales, travel restrictions and asset freezes for key regime figures and businesses, and the possibility of inspections of Iran-bound ships.
The extra measures from the EU "should focus on the areas of trade, especially dual use goods (used either for civilian or military purposes) and further restrictions on trade insurance," EU leaders said in the draft.
They would also target "the financial sector, including freeze of additional Iran banks and restrictions on banking and insurance; the Iranian transport sector, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line."
EU member states would additionally move to prohibit "new investment, technical assistance and transfers of technologies, equipment and services" in "key sectors of the gas and oil industry," particularly in relation "to refining, liquefaction and LNG (liquefied natural gas) technology."
Lastly, members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard would be subject to new visa bans and have bank accounts on EU territory frozen.
The package was agreed to in principle by EU foreign ministers on Monday. Details are to be worked out in the next weeks, in time for final approval by foreign ministers at their next monthly meeting, scheduled for July 26 in Brussels.
The EU summit's endorsement of extra sanctions was preceded by a renewed offer to resume talks with Iran, which was received coolly by Tehran. European leaders said the bloc is committed "to work for a diplomatic solution."
But they also warned the Iranian regime that the recent compromise deal it struck with Turkey and Brazil to obtain limited quantities of enriched uranium under international supervision - without committing to stop its own enrichment programme - did not go far enough.
The scheme, EU leaders said, "would not address the core of Iran's nuclear issue."