European Union nations Thursday agreed to ban financial transfers such as SWIFT to hundreds of Iranian firms and individuals blacklisted by the bloc due to Tehran's contested nuclear drive.
The EU currently has slapped an assets freeze on 116 people and 442 firms and utilities, including the Iranian central bank, as part of global efforts to force Tehran to abandon a nuclear programme feared to have military aims—a claim rejected by Tehran.
A statement Thursday said the EU "agreed that no specialised financial messaging shall be provided to those persons and entities subject to an asset freeze."
An EU official who asked not to be identified said the decision, which was adopted after receiving written approval from the 27 nations, would mainly affect payments through SWIFT, the world's biggest inter-bank transfer network.
The decision will become official when it is published in the EU's Official Journal on Friday.
The EU official said talks meanwhile were continuing to draft a regulation setting out details on an EU decision in February to slap an embargo on Iranian oil.
"It will take a few more weeks" to finalise the regulation, the source said.
After lengthy and fraught talks on an embargo which will impact debt-straddled European nations such as Greece, EU ministers in February agreed a ban on oil imports with a gradual phase-out of existing contracts between now and 1 July.
Earlier this month, global powers offered to resume long-stalled nuclear talks with Tehran amid mounting tension between Israel and Iran.
The talks are led by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, Britain and the United States.
A time and venue are still being discussed with EU diplomats hoping for progress in coming weeks.