27 July 2010
The foreign ministers of the 27 European Union member states have approved a range of new sanctions on Iran that go beyond the measures approved by the United Nations in June. The new EU restrictions agreed include a ban on dealing with Iranian banks and insurance companies and steps to prevent investment in Tehran's lucrative oil and gas sector, including refining.
The EU also adopted a broad clampdown on the "supply, sale or transfer of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology" that could have "dual-use" purposes, including software, and restrictions on financial transfers and bond sales or purchases. Although Iran is the world's fifth largest crude oil exporter it has little refining capacity and has to import about 40 percent of its gasoline needs for domestic consumption.
Whereas the US government welcomed the move by the Europeans, Russia said the EU sanctions undermined international efforts to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The decision by Brussels “also shows disdain for the carefully calibrated and co-ordinated provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions," the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement. The use of sanctions outside of the UN Security Council framework was "unacceptable," it said.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government on Monday also announced new sanctions against Iran, accusing Tehran of moving a step closer to building nuclear weapons in continued defiance of international resolutions. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said the sanctions were intended to "send a strong signal to Iran: the international community is united in purpose and commitment. No state can threaten international peace and security without consequence."
The announcement comes a month after Canada tightened earlier sanctions. The measures prohibit with immediate effect dealings with designated persons involved in nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation and also prohibit the export of proliferation-sensitive goods, items for refining oil and gas, all remaining arms, and technology related to these goods. Also banned is new investment in Iran's oil and gas sector. Iranian financial institutions will be barred from establishing a presence in Canada. However, the measures are unlikely to have a big impact on Canada's trade relations with Iran, which consists mostly of Canadian wheat exports there.
The Canada-Israel Committee warmly welcomed the sanctions. Its chairman Moshe Ronen declared in a statement: “The Iranian regime continues to brutally oppress the people of Iran, arm terrorist networks around the world and refuses to abandon its nuclear weapons program. By confronting the Iranian regime with innovative, peaceful measures to avert its nuclear ambitions, Canada is assuming a leadership role in this crucial international effort.”
In Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that Western efforts to economically isolate his country would eventually backfire. In an interview with ‘CBS News’ aired on Monday night in the US, Ahmadinejad said: "I think the policies by the Europeans and the Americans are ridiculous. They think they are going to influence the life of the Iranian society. In fact, they are imposing sanctions against themselves. Iran is a great nation with a great population. We have vast and rich resources and it's very much easy for us to overcome old problems."
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