Discussions about concrete proposals for more stringent sanctions against Iran
are underway in Brussels in advance of the October 15 meeting there of the 27 EU
The Jerusalem Post has learned that Britain, the
Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy have all put forward recommendations for
stiffening the sanctions regime.
Among measures being considered are
closing existing loopholes that would make it more difficult to work with Iran’s
central bank, banning flights by Iran Air, adding to the list of Iranian
companies that would be blacklisted and taking further measures against Iran’s
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany sent
a letter last month to their colleagues saying the EU must let Iran know it has
not exhausted its sanctions options. The letter also called for decisions to be
made at the October 15 meeting.
Diplomatic officials said that Israel is
pushing hard for stepped-up sanctions.
The internal EU discussion over
sanctions has been characterized as “difficult” because the punitive measures
are taking place in the midst of the euro crisis.
According to one school
of thought, if the EU – despite its own economic crisis and the significant
trade it does with Iran – does indeed ratchet up sanctions at a price to its own
economic well-being, then this would send a powerful message to
The sanctions issue will certainly come up later this month when
the Italian cabinet, including Prime Minister Mario Monti, comes to Israel for
an annual government-to-government meeting. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is
scheduled to lead his cabinet to Germany in December for a similar meeting with
the German government.
The talk of enhanced EU sanctions comes as three
rounds of talks since April between the world powers known as the P5+1 – the US,
Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France – and Iran have led nowhere, and as
the Iranian economy is being badly battered by existing
Despite the looming economic storm, Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that his country has been able to cope with Western
economic sanctions and the central bank has supplied enough hard currency to
finance imports, even though the sanctions have cut Tehran’s oil
Ahmadinejad was speaking after the Iranian rial plunged to a
record low against the US dollar earlier in the day. The currency lost about a
third of its value in the past week, as panicking Iranians scrambled to change
their savings into hard currency to escape high inflation and further
Iran’s imports totaled $26 billion in the first half of
this year, down only moderately from $29 billion in the same period last year,
Ahmadinejad told a news conference.
“The central bank has provided all
the currency for these imports,” he said.
Ahmadinejad said the country’s
enemies were waging a “psychological war” against it.
managed to reduce our oil sales but hopefully we will compensate for
Many businessmen and ordinary citizens in Iran blame the
government for the currency crisis, and Ahmadinejad has been criticized for it
by political enemies in parliament.
The rial has been depreciating for
over a year and has lost about two-thirds of its value since June 2011. Its
losses have accelerated in the past week after the government launched an
“exchange center” to supply dollars to importers of some basic goods;
businessmen have complained the center has failed to meet demand for
Ahmadinejad defended his economic record on Tuesday, saying a
phase-out of food and fuel subsidies that he launched in 2010, which has boosted
the official inflation rate to around 25 percent, had been
“What is the subsidy reform? We are taking from the pockets
of those who consume more to give to those who consume less,” he
Reuters contributed to this report.