EU approves topped-up sanctions on Iran (Lead)

July 26th, 2010 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, July 26 (DPA) European Union (EU) foreign ministers Monday approved a list of sanctions on Iran which go well beyond the measures approved by the UN, officials confirmed.
The sanctions are meant to pressurize Iran into ending its disputed uranium enrichment programme. Tehran says that the programme is purely for peaceful means, but the UN wants it halted until Iran proves that it is not trying to build a nuclear bomb.

EU foreign ministers approved a list of sanctions after a short debate, the council of EU member states said in a brief statement.

Details of the sanctions are only expected to be published Tuesday when the measures officially take effect.

But ahead of Monday’s meeting, diplomats said that they would target Iran’s banks, shipping companies and airlines and ban the transfer of European equipment and technology to the country’s oil and gas sector.

“We have a comprehensive set of sanctions … This is something where you’ll see all 27 (EU) countries working together,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told journalists as she arrived at the monthly ministerial meeting.

Ministers stressed that the purpose of the sanctions was to encourage Iran to negotiate, admitting that the measures themselves would not be enough to halt the enrichment programme.

“I remain to meet anyone who thinks that this issue is going to be sorted out by sanctions alone, so I think we’ll have to look at the different ways in which we can strengthen and emphasise the diplomatic track,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.

Ministers also warned that the EU’s sanctions regime, by going beyond UN measures, could have unwanted side-effects on EU companies.

“When it comes to measures which are not implemented by the whole international community, then it allows other countries not to follow them … Countries in the region, countries in East Asia could easily substitute European businesses” in Iran, Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said.

Most of the sanctions, such as asset freezes on regime figures and businesses, are due to come into force as soon as they are published in the EU’s official journals.

However, others will have to wait for national legislation to put them into effect, a process which could take some weeks.

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