BRUSSELS (AFP) – European Union nations have introduced fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, including restrictions on public loans and tougher cargo inspections, the EU presidency announced Friday.
The measures, in line with an agreement by European ambassadors last month, are a robust application of the latest UN Security Council resolution on Iran.
The UN has called for “vigilance” in entering into new commitments for public-provided financial support for trade with Iran, including the granting of export credits.
The EU has gone further by urging member states to exercise “restraint” in its dealings with Iran in those areas.
The decision comes as major world powers are engaged in a diplomatic tussle with Iran over its uranium enrichment programme which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but the West fear is part of a weapons programme.
The EU will exercise vigilance in dealing with “all banks domiciled in Iran, in particular Bank Saderat.”
EU governments will also exercise restraint “in entering into new commitments for public provided financial support for trade with Iran, notably the granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance,” the French EU presidency said in a statement.
The EU will also “carry out inspections at their airports and maritime ports on cargo going to and from Iran,” with the statement mentioning in particular Iran Air Cargo and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line.
UN resolution 1803 limits cargo inspections to Iranian transporters.
The six world powers engaged in discussion on Iran’s nuclear programme — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — agreed on Wednesday to consider new sanctions on Iran after Tehran gave an ambiguous answer to their latest demand to freeze key nuclear work.
The Security Council has already ordered three rounds of sanctions against Iran.
Iran’s latest letter to the six said only that Tehran was ready to give a “clear response” to an international incentives package aimed at persuading ti to freeze its uranium enrichment programme.
Tehran demanded a “‘clear response’ to our questions and ambiguities.”
Along with the threat of further sanctions, Washington has warned that the option of military action remains open.