Tougher EU sanctions against Iran come into force
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rigorous new sanctions against Iran's banking, shipping and industrial sectors took effect on Saturday, as part of the European Union's effort to force Tehran to scale back its nuclear program.
The sanctions, agreed in October, entered EU law with their publication in the European Union's Official Journal on Saturday.
The toughest EU measures yet, they include bans on financial transactions, sales to Iran of shipping equipment and steel, and imports of Iranian natural gas, adding to earlier bans, including on the OPEC producer's oil.
They reflect heightened concern over Iran's nuclear goals and Israeli threats to attack Iranian atomic installations if diplomacy and other measures fail to deliver a solution.
Diplomats say they hope talks with Iran can resume in January, but are waiting for an answer from Tehran, which maintains its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.
In a statement, Britain's foreign office said there was a clear need "for an urgent solution".
"Iran's leaders know that sanctions are having a significant impact," Britain's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said.
"They should be in no doubt that the international community will keep up the pressure until they are ready to negotiate in good faith and take the concrete steps needed to convince the international community that they are not building a nuclear weapon." Continued...