EU approves more sanctions on Iran

Foreign policy chief to meet with top Iranian negotiator in Turkey Wednesday.

Solana close 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Solana close 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
EU ministers approved on Monday a second round of UN sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council in March. These ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in the country's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of these individuals have links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps. Officials said the EU's package of approved sanctions would impose travel bans on individuals subject to sanctions, ban arms sales to Iran, and block new financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.
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Meanwhile, it was announced on Monday that Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, will meet with top Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani Wednesday in Ankara, hoping to persuade Iran to curb its uranium enrichment activities in exchange for negotiations about economic incentives. "I am going to meet him Ankara (to) see if we can move to a negotiation," Solana said on arrival at an EU foreign ministers meeting. His spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said Solana hoped the talks would lead to the resumption of full-scale negotiations between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program. Gallach reiterated an Iranian freeze on enrichment work was a precondition for such full-scale talks. In exchange for such a freeze, she said, the international community would suspend its UN sanctions on Iran. "We are encouraged, despite the sanctions which are fully in place," Gallach said. "We hope this opportunity on Wednesday will be fully used." Solana is negotiating on behalf of permanent UN Security Council members France, Britain, Russia, the United States and China, as well as Germany. Solana was to brief US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others on his Ankara meeting with Larijani at NATO talks in Oslo on Thursday, officials said. The international community wants Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment work before any talks can be held on a package of economic and other incentives for Iran, including assistance for its nuclear power generation program. Iran has started feeding small amounts of uranium gas into centrifuges that can enrich it to weapons-grade level and is already running more than 1,300 of the machines, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency document obtained last week by The Associated Press. The IAEA has protested Iran's decision to prevent agency inspectors from visiting the country's heavy water reactor, which, when built, will produce plutonium. Enriched uranium and plutonium can both be used for the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Iran denies it plans to produce nuclear weapons, saying it only wants to generate energy. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the EU on Monday to speak for itself in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and distance itself from Washington's position. Ahmadinejad, in an interview with Spanish television said Iran does not need an EU "that translates the words of the United States to us."