EU says Iran oil embargo will be enforced
LUXEMBOURG - Agence France-Presse
Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields with an Iranian flag in the foreground in the Persian Gulf, 1,250 km (776 miles) south of the capital Tehran in this July 25, 2005 file photo. REUTERS photoThe European Union confirmed Monday that a ban on oil imports from Iran will go ahead as planned on July 1 due to the lack of progress in talks on Tehran's contested nuclear drive.
"The latest package of EU sanctions against Iran will apply as earlier decided," EU foreign ministers said in a statement referring to their January agreement to enforce an oil embargo failing a breakthrough in talks on Iran's nuclear programme.
The 27-nation bloc agreed on January 23 to immediately ban new oil imports from Iran and phase out existing contracts by July 1 after weeks of fraught talks on an embargo which is likely to hurt debt-straddled EU nations such as Greece.
"Following a review of the measures the council confirmed that they would remain as approved in January," Monday's EU statement added.
This meant on the one hand that contracts for importing Iranian oil that were concluded before January 23 "will have to be terminated by July 1." "From the same date, EU insurers may no more provide third-party liability and environmental liability insurance for the transport of Iranian oil," the statement said.
It added that "the objective of the EU remains to achieve a comprehensive, long-term settlement on the basis of meaningful negotiations between the E3+3 (global powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US) and Iran." Confirmation that the embargo will be enforced comes days after talks in Moscow between Iran and world powers on its nuclear programme failed to reach a breakthrough.
Negotiators from permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, last week agreed with their Iranian counterparts to stage a new expert-level meeting in Istanbul on July 3.
The West suspects Iran of seeking to make nuclear weapons under the guise of an energy programme and wants it to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, which brings it dangerously close to levels needed to make a nuclear bomb.