EU approves ban on Iranian oil imports

 

Britain, Germany and France joined forces tonight in a call to Iran to abandon "a path that threatens the peace and security of us all".

A statement in the names of the Prime Minister, chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and French president Nicolas Sarkozy followed agreement by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on a ban on Iranian crude oil exports.

The three leaders described the sanctions package - designed to seriously hinder the regime's economic muscle - as "unprecedented" and said: "Our message is clear: we have no quarrel with the Iranian people, but the Iranian leadership has failed to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme."

The statement continued: "We will not accept Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran has so far had no regard for its international obligations and is already exporting and threatening violence around its region."

The warning came as an American aircraft carrier, joined by a British Royal Navy frigate and a French warship, went through the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to block in response to the oil ban.

With tensions in the region mounting, Britain, Germany and France reinforced a statement from the Brussels talks by declaring: "We call on Iran's leadership immediately to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities and abide fully by its international obligations.

"The door is open to Iran to engage in serious and meaningful negotiations about its nuclear programme. Until Iran comes to the table, we will be united behind strong measures to undermine the regime's ability to fund its nuclear programme, and to demonstrate the cost of a path that threatens the peace and security of us all."

Earlier Foreign Secretary William Hague emerged from the talks in Brussels to welcome the oil sanctions, which had full British backing.

"This shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue," he said.

"It is absolutely right to do this when Iran is continuing to breach United Nations resolutions and refusing to come to meaningful negotiations on its nuclear programme."

Mr Hague said he hoped the EU's firm action would influence the attitude of many other countries.

"The EU is taking a very strong lead in world affairs and we strongly welcome this."

The Foreign Secretary said he expected the sanctions to be "very effective" in opening Iran up to engaging in "meaningful" talks.

Between them, EU member states buy almost 600,000 barrels a day of Iran's crude oil exports, which total 2.6 million barrels a day worldwide.

That makes the EU the largest single market for Iranian oil, with Greece relying on Iran for one third of its oil imports, while 13% of Italian consumption comes from Iran, compared with almost 10% in Spain.

The problem is that the sanctions are therefore likely to hit three of the EU's struggling economies hard, thanks to preferential payment deals with Iran which will make it hard to find suppliers elsewhere without adding to their debts.

The sanctions deal involves an immediate ban on new oil contracts with Iran and a phasing out of existing contracts, which must end by July 1 at the latest.

A ban on exports of gold from Iran will also apply, with more travel bans and financial asset blocks on members of the Iranian regime.

Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, the party's foreign affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "Iran's nuclear military ambitions and its government's refusal to engage with the rest of the world on this issue constitute a major threat to global stability and a potential risk to peace in the Middle East.

"The measures agreed by the EU, in denying Iran some of its oil revenues and by making it harder for the leadership to move money around the world, will put pressure on Tehran to come back to the negotiating table."

PA

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible