EU to hit Iran with "comprehensive and robust" sanctions: draft
European Union foreign ministers are set to hit Iran with a "comprehensive and robust package" of sanctions but also to reiterate their willingness to talk on the country's nuclear programme, according to a draft statement seen Tuesday.
The international community suspects that Iran's nuclear programme is designed to create an atomic bomb, something that Tehran denies. As a result, the country has been hit by several sets of UN sanctions, with the latest round approved last month.
EU foreign ministers, due to meet in Brussels on Monday, are expected to implement that UN decision, but also to follow in the United States' footsteps by adopting an extra layer of restrictive measures, in a bid to ramp up the pressure on the Iranian regime.
According to a draft obtained by the German Press Agency dpa, ministers are due to approve "a comprehensive and robust package of measures in the areas of trade, financial services, energy, transport as well as additional designations for visa ban and asset freeze, in particular for Iranian banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines."
However, the document highlights "the longstanding commitment of the European Union to work for a diplomatic solution of the Iranian nuclear issue."
Over the past weeks the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the so-called 5+1 grouping of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, has been in contact with Iran's top negotiator Saeid Jalili.
EU ministers are expected to "call 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."
Their draft statement "reaffirms the validity of the June 2008 proposals" as the basis for talks, recognizing "Iran's legitimate right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty."
The 2008 offer would essentially see Iran stop all uranium enrichment activities and accept international supervision, in return for guaranteed nuclear fuel supplies and nuclear technology from the international community, as well as increased economic and political cooperation.