The EU has agreed stricter sanctions against Iran.
European foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to formally agree the proposals.
The embargo, aimed at curbing Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities, includes a ban on all oil imports into the EU and measures against Iran’s central bank. Ministers hope it will persuade the Iranians to return to talks.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “I reiterate what I say at all occasions, that the purpose of this pressure is to persuade Iran to come back to the table, to continue our discussions.”
Iran exports around 20 percent of its oil to the EU and the new embargo places an immediate ban on new contracts. Reflecting concerns, notably from Greece, all existing deals will be phased out by July 1.
Italian Foreign minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata told euronews: “We believe that the first thing that we have to defend and to take care of is the security, not only of the region, but European security. And therefore, it is unavoidable that there will be some economic consequences.’‘
“The oil and financial sanctions against Iran, had already been agreed by the EU, but a solution on how to implement it without having a detrimental effect on Europe’s already ailing economy still needed time. The main issue for the ministers was how to reassure Greece that its demand for cheap Iranian oil would be met through other means.”