EU to hammer Iran with oil sanctions

The EU will hit Iran with tough sanctions against its vital oil and gas industry in a bid to lure Tehran back to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear programme.

Last Updated: Jul 25, 2010, 23:07 PM IST

Brussels: The European Union will hit
Iran with tough sanctions against its vital oil and gas
industry tomorrow in a bid to lure Tehran back to the
negotiating table over its disputed nuclear programme.

"This (package of sanctions) is about applying
pressure, but applying pressure in order to bring the Iranians
to the table to talk," a European diplomat said.

EU foreign ministers will formally approve the
sanctions following Iran`s repeated refusals to halt sensitive
nuclear activities, which the West fears are aimed at building
a bomb.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the EU
against imposing unilateral sanctions, saying Tehran would
react swiftly and cause "remorse."

"We do not welcome any tension or a new resolution. We
seek logic and friendship," Ahmadinejad said in remarks
directed at the EU, which were translated into English by the
Press TV channel.

"I should tell you that anyone who adopts a measure
against the Iranian nation, such as inspection of our ships
and planes, should know that Iran will react swiftly," the
hardliner said.

"Experience shows that such a reaction by the Iranian
nation will cause remorse to it (the EU)," he added.

The UN Security Council imposed a fourth set of
sanctions on Tehran in early June, but EU leaders and the
United States decided shortly after to impose their own
penalties against the Iranian energy sector.

The sanctions are part of a twin-track approach with
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton seeking to revive
moribund talks between Iran and six world powers -- the United
States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Western powers have demanded that Iran suspend its
uranium enrichment programme, fearing that Tehran would use
the material to build a nuclear bomb.

Tehran says that its atomic programme is a peaceful
drive to produce energy.

The new EU sanctions include a ban on the sale of
equipment, technology and services to Iran`s energy sector,
hitting activities in refining, liquefied natural gas,
exploration and production, diplomats said.

The EU will ban dual-use goods that can be used for
conventional weapons. It will also step up vigilance of the
activities of Iranian-connected banks operating in the EU and
bar them from setting up branches.

"A number of (EU) member states have had to overcome
considerable problems with their economic interests in order
to adopt this package," the European diplomat said.

"It will be in some way the most substantive and
far-reaching autonomous sanctions package which the EU has
adopted against Iran or any other country," he said.

Iran is the world`s fourth largest producer of crude
oil but it imports 40 per cent of its fuel needs because it
lacks enough refining capabilities to meet demand.

PTI