| 02.12,11. 03:11 AM |
EU Slaps Sanctions on 180 Iranian People, Companies
European Union foreign ministers slapped sanctions on more than 180 Iranian companies and individuals Thursday over Tehran's refusal to meet international demands to halt sensitive nuclear work.
The ministers also agreed to continue working on extra punitive measures that could target Iran's vital energy sector, a diplomat told Agence France Presse.
They said in a statement that an agreement was reached to "broaden existing sanctions by examining, in close coordination with international partners, additional measures including measures aimed at severely affecting the Iranian financial system, in the transport sector, in the energy sector."
EU countries are split over targeting the oil sector as well as over calls by some, including Britain, to agree an assets freeze on Iran's central bank.
Joining the foreign ministers' talks, British Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier said he hoped the new EU sanctions would strike at Tehran's financial heart.
"I hope we will agree today additional measures that will be an intensification of the economic pressure on Iran, peaceful legitimate economic pressure particularly to increase the isolation of the Iranian financial sector," Hague said.
German counterpart Guido Westerwelle too opined for sanctions "to dry up Iran's financial sources."
The new sanctions, decided amid indignation across Europe over the Tuesday storming of Britain's embassy in Tehran, follow the publication of a new report on Iran's contested nuclear activity.
The EU has already frozen the assets of hundreds of Iranian firms and in July last year adopted measures aimed at preventing new investment, technical assistance and technology transfers, particularly those pertaining to producing and refining gas.