IAEA team to visit Iran as EU slaps oil imports ban

January 24th, 2012 - 1:50 am ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 24 (IANS) The UN’s nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said it was sending a team to Iran between Jan 29 and 31 “to resolve all outstanding substantive issues” as the European Union (EU) slapped an oil embargo on Tehran over its nuclear programme, BBC reported.

The IAEA, in November last year, said in a report that it had information suggesting Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”, sparking the decision by the US and EU to issue tougher sanctions.

Tehran, however, insists its nuclear programme is for energy purposes.

The EU sanctions involve an immediate ban on all new oil contracts with Iran and a freeze on the assets of Iran’s central bank within the EU, the BBC report said.

The EU, which presently buys about 20 percent of Iran’s oil exports, said the sanctions prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products as well as related finance and insurance.

All existing contracts will have to be phased out by July 1, it added.

Investment as well as the export of key equipment and technology for Iran’s petrochemical sector is also banned. Additional restrictions have been placed on Iran’s central bank and on the trade of gold, precious metals and diamonds, BBC said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated that the sanctions were part of the EU’s “twin track approach” towards Iran.

“The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table and meet,” she said.

“You will know from everything I have been saying in the last weeks the importance we attach to them either coming back and discussing the issues we left on the table in Istanbul a year ago or indeed putting forward their own proposals,” Xinhua quoted Ashton as telling the press.

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