The European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on around 100 Iranian companies, significantly expanding existing restrictions on the country aimed at curbing its disputed nuclear programme.
REUTERS - The European Union is expected to expand its sanctions significantly against Iran on Monday, reflecting growing frustration among Western powers with a lack of progress in nuclear talks with Tehran, EU diplomats said.
The EU’s 27 governments are expected to approve the addition of around 100 companies to the bloc’s embargo list including German-based bank EIH, which specialises in business in Iran at a meeting in Brussels.
“There is a list of about a 100 companies, to be added to the EU sanctions on Monday,” one EU diplomat told Reuters on Thursday.
Another added: “Among those companies is the European Iranian ... Bank,” he said, referring to EIH (Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank or European-Iranian Trade Bank).
“There would now be enough evidence that the bank financed companies involved in Iran’s nuclear programme.”
Western powers say they suspect Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons under the cover of its declared civilian nuclear energy programme. Tehran says it needs nuclear power to meet a growing domestic demand for electricity.
The West has tried to convince Iran to suspend the programme in return for trade and technology, but talks have ground to a halt.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed her frustration on Tuesday at the lack of progress in negotiations with Tehran.
Ashton said after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where they discussed the matter that the EU had wished for a “stronger and better” reply from Iran to her call to revive the talks, and said there appeared little room for new negotiations for now.
“I do urge Iran to think again and to consider coming back to the table. In terms of Iran, I would like to say there will be a new round of talks. But from the letters that I’ve received, I don’t see that at the present time,” Ashton said at the time.