EU Foreign Ministers 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PARIS - EU foreign ministers are expected to agree on an oil embargo against Iran and a freeze on the assets of its central bank at a meeting scheduled for Monday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
France has led calls for the new sanctions to press Iran to halt its nuclear program as talks between Iran and six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - have reached stalemate.
US: Iran still has path to end nuclear dispute
EU: No new nuclear negotiation efforts with Iran
"On Monday, at the EU foreign ministers meeting we will be able to come to an agreement on a sanctions package in these two areas," Juppe told reporters on Thursday after meeting his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd.
EU diplomats have said that member governments have agreed in principle to freeze Iranian central bank assets alongside the planned oil embargo, but had yet to agree how to protect non-oil trade from sanctions.
France, Britain and the United States have ramped up pressure on Tehran
after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed new
concerns about Iran's nuclear program in late November.
Earlier, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu echoed comments from
Russia and Iran that all sides were willing to resume talks, but Juppe
was more skeptical.
"We have always said we are ready for dialogue," Juppe said. "(EU
foreign policy chief Catherine) Ashton has made concrete offers, but
sadly until today Iran has not committed transparently or cooperatively
to this discussion process."
He added: "It's for this reason that to avoid an irreparable military option we have to strengthen sanctions."
Speaking alongside Juppe, Rudd said China and other countries still
importing Iranian oil should bear in mind that world powers were
determined to apply more pressure on Tehran to make it shift its
position on uranium enrichment.
In response to this pressure, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has defended
his country's extensive oil imports from Iran, The world's fifth-largest
"We would urge our friends in Beijing, (and) elsewhere in Asia, to reflect seriously on this," Rudd said.
"We would urge them to be mindful of others in the international
community seeking to bring about the pressure necessary to get change in
the Iranian government's position."
Rudd said Australia, which had previously adopted parallel sanctions on
Iran, would "reflect and act accordingly" following Europe's new round
of sanctions. "Iran continues to act with defiance leaving the
international community with very few options," he said.