Iran may face oil embargo

EUROPEAN authorities have imposed sweeping new sanctions on Iran and threatened to ban states from buying its oil yesterday in a significant escalation of efforts to prevent the country progressing its nuclear ambitions.

European Union foreign ministers added 180 Iranian people and institutions to a blacklist that imposes asset freezes and travel bans on those involved in nuclear research and development they believe is leading to military uses. Iran’s government insists the work is to provide power.

They also said a French proposal to put an embargo on Iran’s oil exports across the 27 EU nations was still on the table. It faces concerns over destabilising the oil market and where alternative supplies could be sourced.

“We are working on it,” French foreign minister Alain Juppe said when asked about an embargo. “We have to work with different partners so that the interruption of [oil] deliveries from Iran could be compensated by a rise in production in other countries.”
EU member states take 450,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil, about 18 per cent of the country’s exports, of which most go to China and India.

Ministers ordered plans for sanctions on Iran’s energy, transport and financial sectors to be drawn up ahead of their next meeting in January.