BRUSSELS (EJP)---The European Union is expected to strengthen its restrictive measures against Iran given the lack of progress in the negotiations with Tehran over the Iranian nuclear program.
Three rounds of talks between Iran and the international community made little progress this year.
The new tough package of sanctions, which are meant to persuade Iran to comply with its international obligations and to constrain its development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programs, will be adopted on Monday at a meeting of the 27 EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg.
The EU ambassadors on Friday prepared the new package of measures which will focuse on dealings with Iran’s banks, trade and gas imports.
All dealings between European and Iranian banks will meanwhile be banned above a certain "relatively low" threshold, although exceptions will be allowed in some medical and humanitarian cases.
Short-term export credit guarantees will be barred, joining the medium- and long-term guarantees already banned. Imports of Iranian gas will be prohibited, a mesaure that follows a much more significant ban on imports of Iranian oil introduced in July.
Sales of graphite or aluminium which could be used in Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile programmes are also to be closed down, with other measures targetting its shipping and telecom industry.
EU diplomats quoted by The Wall Street Journal said that the new measures would significantly increase the pressure on Iran which has recently seen a sharp drop in its currency value and energy revenue.
On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected to brief the EU ministers on her most recent contacts with Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. And with her partners in the E3+3 format (Three EU countries, France, Germany, UK + the US, China and Russia).
The EU said this week that its objective “remains to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated, long-term settlement which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, while respecting Iran’s legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the Non Proliferation Treaty.”
At their monthly meeting, EU Foreign Ministers will also take stock of the Middle East Peace Process in the follow-up of last month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The European Union, diplomats say, continues to engage with the parties aiming at the resumption of meaningful negotations,” in line with the Middle East Quartet statement of 23 September 2011 appealing the parties “to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions.”
In May, a EU statement reaffirmed its commitment to a two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Recalling its fundemantal commitment to the security of Israel, the EU also expressed « deep concern » about developments on the ground which, it said, « threaten to make a two-state solution impossible », mentioning the « market acceleration of settelement construction. «
On Syria, the EU is expected to reinforce its sanctions against the Syrian regim over the increasingly deteriorating situation and in particular the continuing human rights violations. The ministers will also discuss the spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries.