EU leaders to call for more Iran sanctions

Reuters , Friday 9 Dec 2011

European leaders to call for new sanctions on Iran as 'a matter of priority' during EU summit meeting

British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, meets with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, right, during a bilateral meeting at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011. During a two-day summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will try to build support for their plan for eurozone nations to submit their national budgets to much greater scrutiny. (Photo:AP)

European Union leaders will call for more sanctions against Iran at a summit in Brussels on Friday, in an effort to ratchet up pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme, draft conclusions of an EU summit showed.

They are not likely make an explicit call yet for an embargo on Iranian crude oil, which EU diplomats have began discussing this month as a way to strengthen Europe's response to mounting Western concerns that the OPEC producer has worked to design a nuclear weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency ignited such worries last month when it released new evidence on Iran's nuclear work, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes only.

An EU diplomat with knowledge of conclusions prepared for the summit of EU heads of state in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, said governments will reiterate plans to develop new sanctions in the coming weeks.

"The European Council invites the (council of EU ministers) to proceed with its work related to extending the scope of EU restrictive measures and broadening existing sanctions by examining additional measures against Iran," the draft read, according to the diplomat.

EU leaders will call for preparations of sanctions to take place as "a matter of priority" and for them to be adopted by the next meeting of EU foreign ministers in January, the diplomat said.

Last week, EU foreign ministers agreed to develop new sanctions on Iran's energy, transport and banking sectors. Diplomats said a ban on imports of Iranian oil into Europe was under discussion.

France, backed by Germany and Britain, has led the push to ban Iranian crude, but some states, notably Greece, have expressed reservations.

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