EU ministers meeting in Brussels have reportedly approved new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
The measures, including an oil embargo, follow similar moves by the US as the West takes a tougher line over what it believes is Tehran’s push to develop atomic weapons.
The EU is also seeking to continue dialogue with the Islamic Republic.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy, Catherine Ashton said: “We will be discussing and finalising additional sanctions, particularly focused on the Central Bank and on oil exports. But I do want to again reiterate that this is part of trying to get a twin-track approach. The pressure of sanctions is designed to try to make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table and meet.”
An EU source was quoted as saying sanctions would not fully come into force until July. This reflects concerns from Greece and other southern EU states who are heavily dependent on Iranian oil. They wanted an embargo to be phased in to give them time to find other suppliers.
Iran has repeatedly denied it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.