3rd Jun 2023

EU raises pressure on Iran

The EU has agreed to introduce tougher sanctions against Iran over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, seen by the West as a move towards having a nuclear bomb.

The EU sanctions – approved by 27 foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday (22 April) - include a total arms embargo and an expanded list of persona non grata subject to a travel ban and an assets freeze.

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The move goes beyond what was agreed by the United Nations in March, when only a partial arms embargo and a travel ban against 28 people and organisations involved in Iran's nuclear programme were imposed on Teheran.

"The EU goes a little bit tougher than the UN sanctions", EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's spokesperson said, according to AFP. But she did not give any details, except saying "we include more names".

But so far, Iran has shown no sign of bowing to international pressure, with its foreign ministry reiterating on Sunday that the country will never halt uranium enrichment.

Teheran claims its uranium enrichment activities have now reached an industrial scale and wants over 50,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges.

Meanwhile, Mr Solana is set to give diplomacy another shot when he meets Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Turkey on Wednesday (24 April).

"Diplomacy is the only way to solve this issue", Mr Solana said on Monday (22 April), adding that he hoped the meeting would open the possibility of a return to the negotiating table.

The EU has offered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime major economic and political enticements and cooperation in the civil nuclear sector, in exchange for a suspension of its controversial nuclear activities, but Teheran is refusing to negotiate under any preconditions.

Mr Solana and Mr Larijani have held several face-to-face talks in the past - most recently in February - but have so far failed to agree a way out of the nuclear stalemate.


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