(photo credit: Amir Kholousi\AP)
European officials have told their Israeli counterparts in recent days it may be
difficult to get support for stiff EU sanctions against Iran because of the Gaza
flotilla episode, Israeli officials said Wednesday, on the eve of a discussion
among EU leaders about new action on Teheran.
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Israel, according to one
official, was taking a “wait-and-see” approach to whether the menu of sanctions
that the EU is expected to adopt at a meeting Thursday in Luxembourg will
include steps against the Iranian energy industry.
Binyamin Netanyahu has been saying for months that the only sanctions that will
get the Iranian government’s attention are those against the country’s critical
energy sector, including steps taken to hit at the country’s ability to export
oil and import refined energy products.
While the fourth round of UN
sanctions adopted last week did not touch the energy sector, they were still
seen in Jerusalem as significant because they could pave the legal and moral
path for the EU and then the US to move the bar higher, and impose sanctions of
their own that will augment the UN moves.
The EU leaders are scheduled to
discuss a new batch of sanctions that have been approved by EU foreign ministers
at their meeting on Monday. These new sanctions would reportedly postpone the
importation of Iranian gas into the EU.
In addition, Iranian banking and
financial services would be forbidden from selling their products in the
According to the EU observer Web site, the sanctions would also call
for a freeze on EU based bank accounts belonging to members of Iran’s
Revolutionary Guard, while Irisil, an Iranian shipping company, would be barred
from operating in EU waters.
The report said that EU companies would pay
a price for the sanctions, since they would be prohibited from investing in or
offering technical assistance and technology transfers to Iran’s oil and gas
Large European companies have in recent years signed various
initial agreements with Iran for developing large gas fields, but – according to
EU observer – they were forced to pull out. These sanctions would make those
The report defined the talks between the EU foreign
ministers on Monday as “difficult,” with Sweden’s Carl Bildt saying sanctions
alone can’t solve the problem of Iran’s nuclear program, and French Foreign
Minister Bernard Kouchner saying the sanctions should not harm the Iranian
The EU observer reported that Germany’s Guido Westerwelle,
whose country’s exports to Iran reached 3.7 billion Euros last year, backed
sanctions as “an important signal of determination,” although he was
more reluctant to support the oil and gas-related measures, and that
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was quoted as saying “I think Europe
toughen sanctions for oil and gas technologies, visa regime and for
which can be used both for military and civilian purposes.”
administration, meanwhile, said it is expanding US sanctions on Iran,
additional companies and individuals with penalties, as a first step in
implementing the Iran sanctions resolution passed by the Security
The administration said Wednesday the targeted individuals and
institutions are helping Iran to develop its nuclear and missile
programs and to
evade international sanctions.
Additions to its sanctions list include
Iran’s Post Bank for its support of nuclear proliferation.
That brings to
16 the number of Iranian-owned banks on the US list.
Meanwhile, Iran said
Wednesday it would build four more reactors for medical research.
contributed to this report.