22 July 2010
The foreign ministers of the 27 European Union member states are set to approve further sanctions against Iran over its uranium enrichment program, targeting the country's energy, financial and transport sectors. The measures, to be adopted at a meeting next week, are to include a ban on investing in Iran's oil and gas industries, including the transfer of equipment and technology. The member states of the EU will be required to monitor the activities of Iranian financial institutions on their territory, and no insurance or reinsurance can in future to be provided to an Iranian entity.
The sanctions go beyond those adopted by the United Nations Security Council in June. The United States also imposed its own sanctions package on 1 July, which is supposed to restrict Iran's access to refined petroleum and to disrupt financial transactions.
The EU is Iran's largest trading partner, with Italy Germany and Austria being the most active states. Diplomats in Brussels believe that sanctions could be very disruptive for Iran's economy. Although Iran is among the world's top exporters of oil, it does not have sufficient refining capacity to meet domestic demand; it is thought to import around 40 percent of its domestic gas consumption.
Meanwhile, public opinion in France, Germany and Sweden is overwhelmingly in favor of tougher Iran sanctions, a survey has found. Over two thirds of respondents in the three countries said new measures against the regime in Tehran were needed, according to a poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in Israel.
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