The EU has approved tighter sanctions against Iran. According to the conclusions of the Council, this new package of measures includes those already approved by the UN as well as many additional ones. This is to encourage the Teheran regime to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear programme.
The sanctions involve the prohibition of investments by EU countries in oil and gas projects, as well as the transfer of technology and equipment for this sector. The sanctions relate particularly to refining, liquefaction and LNG investment. This will cause concern for major oil and gas firms still engaged in Iran. A lot of firms have been withdrawing from Iran, or stalling investments, leading to accusations by Iran that they were “dragging their feet”. Iran threatened to turn over the projects it deemed to be moving slowly to local firms back in May, and this new raft of sanctions may make this threat a reality.
However, many have pointed out that these sanctions may simply lead Iran to look to the third world for support, particularly Malaysian, Indian and Chinese companies, who have already been making investments in the Iranian oil and gas industry.
The US government has also separately taken steps to squeeze Iran’s energy sector, by identifying a list of twenty petrochemical and petroleum companies under Iranian control, which US companies are prohibited from doing business with.
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, declared that the EU has decided to go further than the United Nations "because we wish to keep the diplomatic option open".
The restrictive measures will also include new visa restrictions and the freezing in EU territory of the assets of top officials, especially the Guardians of the Revolution.
In Community territory, there will be new limitations on activities of Iranian banks, as well as that of the state maritime traffic company, (IRISL) and air-freight transportation.
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