Sunday

17th Dec 2017

US senators warn Ashton on risk of Iran war

  • (Photo: jonkeegan)

US senators have warned EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton that Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme risks igniting a military confrontation.

"Iran's nuclear progamme is moving forward - sharply increasing the risks of either a military confrontation or other countries in the Middle East pursuing their own nuclear arsenals," eight cross-party senators said in a letter sent to the EU's top diplomat on Tuesday (10 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

They urged Europe to press ahead with sanctions on Iran's most valuable export - oil, with EU foreign ministers set to decide on a possible embargo at a meeting on 23 January.

The senators also want the EU to impose sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, its main financial intermediary.

"As you know, the Central Bank of Iran has been carrying out illicit and deceptive financial activities that are supporting the Iranian government's advancing nuclear programme," the letter said.

The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have already taken steps against the bank. With Europe on board, the US hopes to force Tehran into dropping its nuclear programme while encouraging non-Iranian oil exporters to make up the difference.

For its part, Iran says its nuclear progamme is peaceful and will be used to generate electricity for internal consumption, allowing them to export more oil instead of burning it for domestic needs.

It has made a number of threats in the run-up to the EU embargo decision, including a military blockade of the Strait of Hormuz (an export route for Saudi oil) - a potential development which could see world oil prices go up by 50 percent, according to The New York Times.

It recently test-fired various types of missiles, announced the production of its first nuclear fuel rod and warned the US not to send warships to the Persian Gulf.

The EU imports 5.8 percent of its crude from Iran. Greece, Italy and Spain are the biggest buyers, with Greece importing around 35 percent of its consumption from the pariah state.

The US letter comes at a critical moment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that Iran has started to enrich uranium at a fortified nuclear site.

"Iran has started the production of uranium enriched up to 20 percent" in the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant, IAEA spokesman Gill Tudor told Bloomberg in an email.

Highly enriched uranium is a necessary ingredient to create fission nuclear weapons. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90 percent. The IAEA in November said it has evidence that Iran is aiming to build such a weapon.

In October, Ashton sent a letter to the Iranian leadership asking to restart talks after an almost year-long gap. She is still waiting for a response.

The US letter addressed to Ashton was signed by senators Joseph I. Libermann, Mark Kirk, John Kyl, Marco Rubio, Robert Menedez, Charles E. Schumer, Robert P. Casey, Jr. and Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

EU countries preparing oil ban on Iran

A Greek official has indicated that Athens would back an oil embargo on Iran, setting the stage for a positive decision by EU countries at the end of the month.

Iranian oil, gold and banks on EU hitlist

An oil embargo from 1 July, a partial ban on the central bank and a prohibition on trade in gold are among the latest EU ideas on how to stop Iran building nuclear bombs.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states