World / Middle East

EU bans import of natural gas from Iran

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-10-15 21:56

LUXEMBOURG - The European Union (EU) on Monday reinforced its sanctions against Iran, including banning import of natural gas from Iran "over lack of progress in nuclear talks."

"Today's decisions target Iran's nuclear and ballistic programs and the revenues of the Iranian government for these programs," said an EU conclusion adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

According to the conclusion, the import of natural gas from Iran will be banned in the EU. "This concerns import, purchase and transport of gas, as well as finance and insurance related to these activities. In addition, the Council agreed to broaden the existing export ban on key equipment for the Iranian oil, gas and petrochemical industries," said the conclusion.

To cut off the funding of Iran's nuclear program, the Council in particular took further measures to ensure that EU financial institutions do not process funds that could contribute to Iran's nuclear program or to the development of ballistic missiles.

It prohibited all transactions between European and Iranian banks, unless they are explicitly authorized in advance by national authorities under strict conditions.

In addition, the EU has decided to strengthen the restrictive measures against the Central Bank of Iran.

The Council also banned the export to Iran of further materials relevant to the Iranian nuclear and ballistic programs or to industries controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

This concerns in particular graphite, raw or semi-finished metals, such as aluminum and steel, as well as software for integrating industrial processes. The prohibition also includes related technical or financial assistance.

Vessels belonging to EU citizens and companies may no longer be used for transporting or storing Iranian oil and petrochemical products.

Furthermore, the involvement of EU industries in the construction of new oil tankers for Iran will no longer be permitted and key naval equipment and technology for ship building and maintenance can no longer be supplied to Iran. The Council also banned flagging and classification services for Iranian oil tankers and cargo vessels.

EU member states also decided to stop supporting trade with Iran through new short-term export credits, guarantees or insurance. Medium-and long-term commitments were already previously prohibited.

The Council targeted 34 additional Iranian entities providing substantial financial support to the Iranian government and one person involved in the Iranian nuclear program with an asset freeze and a travel ban. "This concerns notably entities active in the oil and gas industry and in the financial sector," said the conclusion.

The bloc, however, stressed a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue while urging the country to "comply with all its international obligations."

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