EU imposes sanctions on Iranian oil

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    EU has imposed sanctions on Iranian oil and its central bank citing concerns that Iran might be trying to master the technology used to build nuclear bombs. The sanctions will freeze the assets of Iran’s Central Bank within the EU, and ban any new oil contracts. Running contracts will have to be phased out by July 1st.

    The European Union currently accounts for about 20% of Iranian oil, but the ban might have no impact other than symbolic as Asian countries are already lining up to buy Iranian crude which the West scorns. The EU has banned the import, purchase and transportation of Iranian crude, and all related financial and commercial transactions. Investment and export of petrochemical technology to Iran has also been banned. Iran still relies on foreign suppliers for refining its crude.

    The sanctions on the Iranian central bank has been imposed as it is the conduit for Iran’s oil revenues. However, the news did not seem to affect oil prices with the Brent crude moving up by a mere 0.8%.

    Foreign ministers of the EU will meet to consider additional sanctions, even as the US said it will consider imposing more sanctions on Iran to halt its nuclear programme.

    A statement from President Barack Obama said that the EU sanctions underlined the international community’s commitment towards “addressing the serious threat presented by Iran’s nuclear program. The United States will continue to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran,” the statement added.

    EU made it is a point to make the imposing of sanctions an occasion to call for talks. Ahead of the ministerial meet, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reiterated that the sanctions were part of EU’s “twin track approach” towards Iran and said: “The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table and meet.”

    “You will know from everything I have been saying in the last weeks the importance we attach to them either coming back and discussing the issues we left on the table in Istanbul a year ago or indeed putting forward their own proposals,” Xinhua quoted Ashton as telling reporters.