Monday, January 23, 2012

EU states agree ban on Iranian oil imports, central bank

European Union governments agreed on Monday to an immediate ban on all new contracts to import, purchase or transport Iranian crude oil and petroleum products, EU officials said, a move to sharply step up pressure on Tehran.

EU countries with existing contracts for Iranian oil and petroleum products will have until July 1, 2012 to complete those contracts.

EU governments also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank and to ban all trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies, officials said.

A review of the measures will be undertaken before May 1, 2012, to assess whether it the sanctions are effective and whether EU states are succeeding in finding sufficient resources of alternative crude oil.

"There will be a review of the embargo before May," one EU official said.

The sanctions regime, which brings the EU's 27 countries closely into line with the United Stats, is designed to put pressure on Tehran to halt or scale back its nuclear program, which the West and other nations believe is aimed at developing weapons. Iran says it is a peaceful nuclear program. Source