World leaders send firm messages before Chicago
WASHINGTON / TEHRAN
(From L) Italian PM Mario Monti, Canadian PM Harper, French President Hollande, US President Obama, UK PM Cameron, Russian PM Medvedev, (From R) Japanese PM Noda, European Commission President Barroso, European Council President Van Rompuy, and German Chancellor Merkel attends the G8 summit. AFP photoGroup of eight leaders signaled to Iran on May 19 that they will strictly apply punishing energy sanctions in response to Tehran’s disputed nuclear program while vowing to ensure oil markets are well-supplied to prevent soaring crude prices.
“Looking ahead to the likelihood of further disruptions in oil sales and the expected increased demand over the coming months, we are monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to call upon the International Energy Agency [IAEA] to take appropriate action to ensure that the market is fully and timely supplied,” said a joint communiqué from the Group of Eight world economic powers.
The move increased pressure on Iran before its next round of nuclear talks with global powers starting in Baghdad on May 23 and came ahead of the imposition of a European Union oil embargo on July 1.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he was “hopeful” that the talks would be productive and added that major powers were “unified” against Iran.
“All of us are firmly committed to continuing with the approach of sanctions and pressure in combination with diplomatic discussions,” Obama told reporters. “And our hope is that we can resolve this issue in a peaceful fashion that respects Iran’s sovereignty and its rights in the international community, but also recognizes its responsibilities.”
Iran said sanctions over its disputed nuclear program should be lifted in the Baghdad talks. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast reiterated Tehran’s assertion that the sanctions had no legal basis and added that “no one in Iran is happy about the sanctions.”
Strong warning to North Korea
The G-8 statement came as Iranian Economy Minister Shamseddin Hosseini said international oil prices would rise under sanctions designed to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Oil prices might go as high as $160 per barrel if the EU goes ahead with its July 1 embargo, Hosseini told CNN in an interview.
“We must pay close attention when we speak of oil revenues and sanctions against oil sales; who are the winners and the losers of such sanctions?” Hosseini said. “Indeed, it is difficult. But not just for Iran. And we can all rest assured that there will be a considerable increase in international oil market prices. Now, is this the best approach?”
G-8 Leaders also warned North Korea that it faces more sanctions if it continues to threaten the stability of the region with acts such as its failed long-range rocket launch in April. “We affirm our will to call on the U.N. Security Council to take action, in response to additional [North Korea] acts, including ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests,” the declaration said.
The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions against Pyongyang after its first nuclear test in 2006 and stepped up sanctions after its second test in 2009, hoping to derail the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.