BRUSSELS (AP) – EU leaders are set to adopt a new set of sanctions against Iran Thursday in a further effort to stall its disputed nuclear program.
The additional restrictions, due to be approved during a summit focused primarily on economic issues, will target Iran’s oil industry, shipping and air cargo companies, and dual-use products that could be utilized as part of the nuclear program. More sanctions will also be imposed on trade insurance and financial transactions.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday that Europe needs to play a full role in international efforts. This means “making sure that we have a strong package of sanctions against Iran, something that is going to be discussed today,” he said. “We believe it is incredibly important.”
The new EU measures will strengthen those adopted last week by the U.N. Security Council, after Iran rebuffed a plan to suspend uranium enrichment and swap its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium for fuel rods.
The U.N. is seeking to disrupt the money flow to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It calls for an asset freeze on 40 additional companies and organizations involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities.
The United States, Israel and other nations fear that Iran will continue to upgrade its uranium enrichment program until it can produce a nuclear weapon. Iran says it only seeks to develop fuel for its energy and research reactors, and that it has the right to enrich uranium under the international nonproliferation treaty.
Tehran has dismissed the impact of sanctions, vowing to expand its
atomic research program.
On Thursday, the country’s defense minster said the new sanctions would not affect Iran’s armed forces because the country is militarity self-sufficient.
“We are not seeking arms. We have the capability to export,” Gen. Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying on the website of Iran’s state TV.
Iran has been pursuing self-sufficiency in military production since 1992.
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the door remains open for negotiations with Tehran. She said she had invited Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to discuss the issue. EU officials said Tehran was expected to accept the invitation and that talks could resume later this summer.