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EU ready ‘to take unilateral sanctions against Iran’

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AFP


The West suspects Iran’s nuclear drive may be aimed at acquiring atomic weapons


SAARISELKA,
Finland – The European Union is ready to unilaterally impose new sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed Sunday.

Asked by journalists whether there was a consensus within the EU for unilateral sanctions against Iran, Kouchner replied “broadly yes, but we have to talk about what kind of sanctions.

“And first we should devote our strength and time to getting a resolution in the UN Security Council and we’re working on that,” he said.

“The general consensus is also to not target the people but to target the economy, banking, insurance and travel permits for some particular people,” he added.

Kouchner was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Finland. On Saturday his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb indicated that there was a sufficient consensus within the EU to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran if need be.

The statements were the first clear declarations by European officials that the bloc is ready to order sanctions outside of a UN framework, a measure which only recently several member countries had opposed.

Western governments, particularly the United States and France, are seeking further sanctions in the hope of stopping Tehran’s nuclear drive, which they suspect may be aimed at acquiring atomic weapons.

The Islamic republic says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said any EU move was unlikely for the coming months as the UN Security Council is expected to take up a new sanctions resolution.

“The United States are expected to present a draft resolution at the end of March,” said Frattini, with consideration of the measure to take several months, which he called “a reasonable delay.”

Of the five permanent Security Council members, currently only China opposes new measures against Iran.

The 15-strong UN Security Council has five permanent veto-wielding members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Adoption of a resolution requires at least nine votes from the council and no veto from the permanent members.

A European diplomat who asked not to be named said that EU members were not completely unanimous, with Sweden in particular still reluctant to support sanctions outside of the UN framework.

With the improved chances of obtaining an UN Security Council resolution the EU may avoid facing the question of independently imposing sanctions, she added.

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Written by rohitkumarsviews

March 15, 2010 at 6:23 am

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