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EU mulls ‘full’ Iran financial freeze, shipping ban

BRUSSELS: European Union states are discussing a British sanctions proposal against Iran that notably calls for a ban on shipping and a “full” freeze on financial transactions with the Islamic Republic’s central bank, European diplomats said Tuesday.“Most [EU] member states are largely supportive” of the proposals, a European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“The discussions are ongoing, there is still a long way to go,” cautioned another source who also asked not to be identified.

Britain, France and Germany jointly urged their European Union partners last week to step up pressure on Iran over its contested nuclear drive, agreeing new sanctions should be adopted at EU foreign ministers’ talks in Luxembourg on Oct. 15.

Now under discussion is a London proposal to strengthen existing punitive measures in four areas: finance, trade, energy and transport.

The Netherlands has proposed similar ideas.

The hardest-hitting British suggestions, according to an EU diplomat, are a “full freeze on Iran’s central bank, on all its financial transactions,” as well as “a wide sectorial ban on shipping.”

Some EU nations, however, including Spain and Sweden, were concerned that the freeze would be tantamount to a ban on trade.

“But it is not,” a diplomat said.

France and Germany too “needed reassuring,” the diplomat added.

Current EU sanctions against Iran’s central bank were drafted to ensure that an assets freeze did not affect trade between the 27-nation bloc and Iran.

Shipping nations Denmark and Greece for their part were worried by the proposed ban on shipping.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 26, 2012, on page 5.

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