EU passes unprecedentedly tough Iran sanctions
The EU passed sanctions today that surpass the UN's Iran sanctions and all previous European measures. As Tehran's largest trading partner, the EU is likely to make a serious dent economically.
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The larger aim of the EU, Ashton said after Monday's meeting, is to "persuade Iranian leaders it is in their interest to return to the table ... sanctions are not an end in themselves." The EU wants a solution "that enables all to have confidence in the civilian nature of the program," Ashton added.Skip to next paragraph
Ashton has been corresponding with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and has stated she is ready to talk further with him in September, following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Under pressure, Iran pursues diplomatic track
The sanctions were finalized as Iran continues to push its nuclear efforts, which it declares to be purely civilian but which the West suspects is paving the way for nuclear weapons.
Tehran Sunday petitioned the International Atomic Energy Agency to allow Brazil and Turkey to join in negotiations in Vienna on a proposed swap of Iranian low-enriched uranium for fuel rods to be used in a medical reactor. Iran last year rejected a similar proposal by Europe, Russia, and the US.
Now it proposes that Turkey, not Russia, take part of its uranium for reprocessing. Iran also said yesterday it wishes to pursue a “fusion reactor” – technology that has eluded the West.
EU foreign ministers left the door open for diplomacy, offering Iran a package of economic incentives if it halts uranium enrichment – a process necessary for nuclear power but also weapons.
How effective will sanctions be?
Iran government spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted by the official news agency IRNA as saying the sanctions would "have no impact."
How effective sanctions may prove in deterring Iran’s assumed march toward nuclear capability – in a country where Revolutionary Guard businesses are known to profit greatly from black-market goods – is unknown and debated. But some Europeans feel the bloc has no other choice.
“We don’t know if a sanctions regime will affect [Iran’s] nuclear program,” says François Heisbourg of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. “We simply don’t. The only difference between doing sanctions, and doing nothing, is that doing nothing means nothing will happen.”
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