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West ups sanction stakes against Iran

West ups sanction stakes against Iran
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Washington has welcomed the move by European governments to agree in principle to ban imports of Iranian oil. The prospective embargo, along with tough US financial measures, form a concerted Western campaign to hold back Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“These are the kind of steps that we would like to see,” said US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. “Not just from our close allies and partners in places like Europe but from other countries around the world. Because we do believe that this is consistent with tightening the noose on Iran economically.”

Turkey, Iran’s fourth biggest oil customer, has sent its foreign minister for talks on Tehran’s nuclear activities. As a US ally and Iranian client, Ankara seeks a mediation role.

But tensions are increasing: Tehran has threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of trade oil flows, if sanctions are imposed.

Iran is also promising action if a US aircraft carrier sails through the Strait – something Washington has dismissed as sabre rattling.