Monday, March 15, 2010

EU Considering Unilateral Sanctions on IR Iran

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AFP, AP, Reuters, VOA & Deutsche Welle /

France's foreign minister says European states could impose unilateral sanctions on Iran if the United Nations fails to pass its own sanctions. Bernard Kouchner told reporters in Finland Sunday that efforts should first be devoted to passing a resolution in the U.N. Security Council. But he said if that does not happen, France may propose sanctions on Iran's banks and insurance companies, and on travel permits for specific people. Kouchner spoke to reporters outside a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in northern Finland. On Saturday, his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, said there was enough agreement within the EU to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran. Western members of the U.N. Security Council support a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, but veto-wielding China is urging more diplomacy. Western nations accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon. Tehran says it is working on nuclear energy projects.

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU remained committed to seeking a UN resolution on sanctions against Iran, but lacking that, the 27-nation block would take action on its own. He was speaking after an informal meeting with EU Foreign Policy Director Catherine Ashton and seven other European foreign ministers in Finland on Saturday. "If we have succeeded in driving a common line one particular issue, I would pinpoint Iran," he said. Germany, Britain and France have previously stated that they agree on the need for a fourth round of sanctions to restrict Iran's nuclear ambitions, but in the past some smaller EU members have expressed reservations. The details of any such sanctions package would therefore still have to be finalized. Without going into detail, Stubb said that member states had suggested a variety of supplemental sanctions which included restrictions in the energy and financial sectors.