BERLIN – The 27-member European Union slapped 32 Iranian officials on Tuesday
with human-rights sanctions.
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Speaking to reporters in Luxembourg on
Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “We have agreed on
sanctions, restrictive measures on Iran because of the appalling human rights
record of Iran.
“Iran seems to have believed with all the change in the
Mideast that they think they can get away with an even worse human rights
situation in their country,” Hague continued.
He cited 32 Iranians to be
sanctioned by the EU because they are “responsible and instrumental in the
policies” of Iran, including extra-judicial executions and “imprisonment of
According to Hague, there has been “excessive use of
the death penalty on vague charges” in Iran, and the Islamic Republic has
engaged in the “detention of more journalists than any other country in the
Additionally, a 2010 Amnesty International report noted that Iran
led the Middle East in “credible reports” of executions, with more than 300 in
2010. The US State Department said Iran applied the death penalty to 312 people
Meanwhile, Iran has stopped providing fuel to European
aircraft in retaliation for their refusal to fuel Iranian aircraft, Iran’s
state-run newspaper quoted a senior official as saying on Wednesday.
a retaliatory move, we have stopped providing fuel to European aircraft,” said
First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, the daily reported.
US President Barack Obama signed into law far-reaching new sanctions on Iran
that targeted the country’s fuel imports – punishing any company worldwide that
exports gasoline or other refined petroleum products to Iran. Reports said
Iranian planes had been denied fuel in Germany, Britain and a Gulf Arab
state. Iran had warned European countries in 2010 that it would take
action if some Western countries continued to refuse to supply fuel for Iranian
Responding to US pressure, the Austrian energy giant OMV pulled
the plug late last month on extending its contract to refuel Iran Air planes in
Austria. Additionally, gas and oil companies ranging from BP, Shell, Total and
Q8 (Kuwait Petroleum) have stopped furnishing Iran Air with fuel at a number of
major European airports.
The OMV – along with a list of European, Russian
and Chinese firms – is slated to show exhibits at Iran’s Oil Show in Tehran
(April 16-19), according to a list on the Oil Show website. The Spanish government’s Institute of Foreign Trade is also sending a delegation to the Tehran oil event.
European-Iranian trade relations has thrust Austria and
Germany into the spotlight over the last few weeks because of their noteworthy
business deals with Iran’s government.
According to a Tuesday report in
the daily Die Presse
in Vienna, Austrian imports from Iran ballooned by 397
percent in 2010, compared with the same period in 2009. Austrian exports to Iran
increased by 6.2% in 2010, in contrast to 2009.
Last year, Austria
imported 672,000 tons of Iranian oil. While the importation of Iranian crude oil
is not barred by EU sanctions, critics argue that imposing an embargo on Iranian
crude oil could influence dramatic changes in Iran’s behavior.
e-mail to The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday, Samuel Laster, the editor-in-chief of
the pro-Israel online Jewish website Die Jüdische in Vienna, wrote that the “OMV
seems to be interested in strengthening its Iran business.”
He said the
partially state-owned OMV is dominated by the Austrian Social
Democrats. As a result, the current Social Democratic Chancellor Werner
Faymann is reticent when dealing with OMV, noted Laster, who was born in Kfar
Laster, who speaks fluent Hebrew and German, grew up in Netanya and
relocated to Austria at the age of 10. He served in the IDF between 1980-1982 in
a armored unit, and frequently appears in the media as an expert on Austrian-
He added that “business takes priority over morality”
in Austria and “it is more difficult to bring this topic to discussion” in the
Central European country.
Laster said the combination of politics and
business is much closer in Vienna than elsewhere.
“The always recurring
business deals between Austria and Jew-haters and anti- Semites – like Gaddafi
and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – are apparently part of a consensus in
the Alpine Republic [Austria],” Laster wrote.
Germany’s refusal to shut
down the European-Iranian trade bank (EIH) – widely considered to be Europe’s
leading financial lifeline for Iran’s nuclear and military programs – has
further rattled Washington and the French.
Writing on Tuesday in her
popular Washington Post
blog “Right Turn,” the prominent journalist Jennifer
Rubin noted, “I spoke this morning with a key senate aide on the topic of Iran
sanctions. He told me, ‘This is an infuriating problem.’ He observed that the
sanctions law passed last year ‘makes clear that anyone who does business with
designated entities like EIH Bank runs the risk of themselves being
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal
Germany snubbed a French proposal to outlaw the EIH in February. The US
Treasury Department sanctioned the EIH last year because of its proliferation
activities, but the Merkel administration seeks to conduct business with the
bank because many German companies are conducting trade via the EIH with
Germany is Iran’s No. 1 European trade partner.Reuters
contributed to report.
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