EU considers U.N.-style Iran sanctions: sources
Friday, January 19, 2007; 7:25 AM
LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union is looking at ways to apply United Nations sanctions against Iran and may expand the list of people linked to Tehran's nuclear program targeted by the U.N. resolution, sources said on Friday.
Tehran maintains that its nuclear ambitions are limited to generating electricity. The European Union and the United States suspect Tehran is secretly seeking to build nuclear bombs.
They say it will face harsher sanctions if it ignores the resolution unanimously passed on December 23 at the behest of the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France. The resolution gave Iran 60 days to suspend nuclear fuel-enrichment activity.
Foreign ministers from EU states are due to meet on Monday to consider an interpretation of the current range of sanctions, government and diplomatic sources said on Friday.
"We shall be looking for the EU to implement the measures in a way that is thorough and effective," one British official said.
The U.N. sanctions resolution bans transfers of sensitive nuclear materials to Iran, freezes financial assets of those associated with the nuclear program and asks countries to pass on information about the whereabouts of individuals on the list.
"We want the outcome (of the meeting) to reinforce the resolution so that the EU interpretation will not be limited to the names currently on the resolution's annexe," a diplomatic source said.
"We will be looking to broaden the resolutions to allow us to impose travel bans and freeze assets of other individuals," the source said.
Formalizing an arms embargo in a legally binding way is no longer on the agenda after ambassadors of the 27 EU states discussed and agreed on Thursday a text on Iran for the meeting next week, other diplomatic sources said.
"It's sort of symbolic, to show Europe is united in the face of Iranian defiance," a European diplomat said.
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told reporters that Germany's priority on Iran during its six-month EU presidency was to make sure the U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Iran is fully implemented.
"We're working successfully on achieving this goal and are optimistic that the (EU) foreign ministers can make a political decision in this direction on Monday in Brussels," he said.
Iran said earlier this week it was ready to begin installing 3,000 centrifuges for industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel. That prompted a warning from British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett that Tehran's stance was not "cost-free."
Diplomats confirmed Iran's statement on Thursday, saying it had completed preparations at an underground plant where the 3,000 centrifuges are to be rigged up, expanding what to date has been a limited, research-level enrichment program.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the Natanz enrichment complex over the past week to gather material for an IAEA report due to be issued to the U.N. Security Council on February 21, the 60-day deadline.
(With reporting by Louis Charbonneau, Mark John and Mark Heinrich)