EU takes on Iran oil embargo

The European Union (EU) formally adopted an oil embargo on Monday against Iran and a freeze of the assets of the country’s central bank as part of sanctions meant to pressure the country to resume talks on its nuclear programme.

Diplomats said the measures, which were adopted in Brussels by the EU’s 27 foreign ministers, include an immediate embargo on new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products, while existing contracts will be allowed to run until July.

EU diplomats have said the measure is part of a twin-track approach towards Iran — increase sanctions to discourage what they suspect is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, but also emphasise the international community’s willingness to talk.

Iran says its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague called the embargo part of “an unprecedented set of sanctions”.

“I think this shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue,” Hague said.

The EU also agreed to freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank. Together, the two measures are intended not only to pressure Iran to agree to talks but also to choke of funding for its nuclear activities.

In October, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton sent a letter to Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, saying her goal was a negotiated solution that “restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”.

She says she has not yet received a reply.

In advance of Monday’s decision, negotiators worked hard to try to ensure that the embargo would punish only Iran — and not EU member Greece, which is in dire financial trouble and relies heavily on low-priced Iranian oil.

The foreign ministers agreed to a review of the effects of the sanctions, to be completed by May 1, a diplomat said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the subject before the official announcement. And they agreed in principle to make up the costs Greece incurs as a result of the embargo.

“It is important to know what will happen to individual countries as a consequence of the sanctions,” Ashton said before the meeting.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was critical that action be taken.

“This is not a question of security in the region,” he said. “It is a question of security in the world.” — Sapa-AP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Ndabeni-Abrahams lockdown debacle: What we know

The minister has to answer to the president after a picture was posted of her apparently breaking lockdown rules

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world