BRUSSELS - The European Union is poised to ban imports of Iranian gas into Europe as part of its efforts to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, diplomats said on Thursday.
Diplomats from EU member states have started preparing a package of sanctions against Iran with a goal of formally adopting them at a meeting of foreign ministers on Oct. 15 in Luxembourg.
Late on Wednesday, they reached a preliminary deal to ban gas imports, the first measure to win approval in the package, which also consists of various finance and energy-related proposals, three EU diplomats said.
"There is agreement on gas," one of the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The big states back it, Germany, Britain, France," another one said.
The moves come as European governments and the United States are searching for new ways to pressure Tehran into scaling back its nuclear work after diplomacy foundered earlier this year. Tehran denies its work has any military intentions.