Tuesday

22nd May 2018

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.

Sofia summit: EU leaders search for a Trump strategy

"With friends like that, who needs enemies?" European Council Donald Tusk asked on Wednesday, as EU leaders were trying to come up with a reply to the US president's questioning of the transatlantic relationship.

Devil in detail in Macedonia name talks

Unlocking Macedonia talks could be this year's big breakthrough in EU enlargement, but the devil's in the detail of Macedonia's constitution, as Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meet in Sofia.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures