EU threatens new Iran sanctions despite Russia grumblings
09 September, 2012
PAPHOS: European Union nations waved the threat of new international sanctions against Iran over its contested nuclear drive on Saturday, as Russia complained such measures harm its interests.
With frustration mounting over the lack of progress in talks between global powers and Iran, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Tehran has made no "substantial offer" to reassure the world of its nuclear intentions. "Therefore we must prepare new sanctions," he told journalists at the close of two days of informal talks among EU foreign ministers, their first since the summer break. "Atomic weapons in Iran are not acceptable," Westerwelle added.
Iran had a right to nuclear energy for civilian purposes, said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, but "we consider unacceptable, highly dangerous, the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons." There was "a growing consensus" at the talks to slap new punitive measures against Iran failing a breakthrough in negotiations, ministers said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said existing sanctions were having "a serious impact" and that it was "necessary to increase the pressure on Iran, to intensify sanctions, to add further to the EU sanctions." Iran has seen a 50 percent cut in state revenues from the oil sector and faces dire storage problems because it cannot sell, a diplomatic source said.
The calls came just as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov grumbled that US sanctions on Syria and Iran were harming Russian business interests because they were "increasingly becoming extra-territorial in nature." He said Russian banks were particularly being affected. But Russia has stirred Western and Arab world anger by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions to sanction Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some EU ministers showed little sympathy for the stance.