EU poised to impose stricter sanctions on Iranian oil

Denmark’s government expressed confidence that the European Union would impose harsher sanctions on the oil and banking sectors of Iran for its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Denmark’s government expressed confidence that the European Union would impose harsher sanctions on the oil and banking sectors of Iran for its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“We'll go further both on oil sanctions and on sanctions against the financial structures” in Iran, said Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal of Denmark, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

Soevndal said the new sanctions against Iran would be dealt with on Jan. 23 during the next meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers. The meeting had been scheduled for Jan. 30, but was rescheduled to avoid clashing with an economic summit.

Analyst IHS Global Insight, however, noted that the sanctions meeting had been brought forward “at a point when tensions have become especially high between the West and Iran.”

The analyst said the change of date for the sanctions meeting suggested that “the measures themselves may be relatively mild in order to secure earlier agreement.”

The EU buys about 450,000 b/d of Iran’s oil, and the countries most dependent on those barrels—Greece, Italy, and Spain—want to put off the onset of the proposed oil sanctions while sourcing other supplies.

EU diplomats expressed confidence that alternative supplies could be found, saying that other countries in the Persian Gulf region had already expressed a willingness to boost production and exports.

“Countries in the gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, would be very interested in this situation to increase their production,” said Soevndal, adding, “Libya is on its way to increase its production.”

Meanwhile, EU diplomats have yet to work out the matter of sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank, which would freeze all transactions with the bank in an attempt to dry up the country's financial resources.

“We are moving in that direction, but there are still discussions on the terms,” one European diplomat told AFP.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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