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E.U. adopts Iran oil embargo

JTA

January 23, 2012 | 10:35 am

The European Union adopted an oil embargo against Iran.

The embargo was approved Monday by the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers, during a meeting in Brussels.

Under the measure, part of sanctions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, the countries will impose an immediate embargo on new contracts with Iran for crude oil and petroleum products, and existing contracts must end by July 1.

“The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes; Western nations are concerned that Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons.

The E.U. sanctions come on the heels of new financial sanctions on Iran from the United States. The sanctions in the law signed by President Obama on Dec. 31, target third parties that deal with Iran’s financial and energy sectors; for years the United States has banned dealings by its own citizens with those sectors.

New E.U. sanctions approved Monday also include a freeze on the assets of Iran’s central bank.

The new sanctions were meet with additional threats from Iranian lawmakers to close off the Strait of Hormuz, which would cut off much of the West’s oil supply.

“In case of threat, the closure of the Strait of Hormuz is one of Iran’s rights,” senior Iranian lawmaker, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said. “So far, Iran has not used this privilege.”

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