BRUSSELS - A European Union court ruled on Friday that the EU should lift sanctions it imposed against seven Iranian companies, dealing a new blow to Europe's efforts to use economic pressure to rein in Tehran's disputed nuclear work.

The ruling, which can be appealed, follows similar decisions earlier this year against sanctions imposed on two of Iran's biggest banks.

It covers: Post Bank Iran, Iran Insurance Company, Good Luck Shipping, Export Development Bank of Iran, Persia International Bank, Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co and Bank Refah Kargaran.

Governments in Europe and the United States are hoping sanctions against such companies will make it more difficult for Tehran to fund its nuclear program, which they fear is designed to give Iran the capability to build bombs.

Iran denies having such intentions and says it needs nuclear power for energy generation and medical research.

The General Court, Europe's second-highest, said however that the EU had failed to produce sufficient evidence the listed companies were involved in the atom work.

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