BRUSSELS — Europe banned the import of Iranian oil Monday and froze Europe-based assets of the Central Bank of Iran, intensifying an international campaign to choke Iran’s economy and force the radical Islamic government to dispel fears that it is working to develop nuclear weapons.Read the rest here.
The ban, decided by foreign ministers of the 27-nation European Union, is a dramatic escalation of sanctions against Iran, joining with the United States to squeeze the oil earnings and financial transactions that the Tehran government depends on to sustain its citizens and finance its military. The British foreign secretary, William Hague, called the E.U. effort “unprecedented” and said it shows the resolve of European governments to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
But the decision also includes broad loopholes — including a six-month delay before it goes into effect — that soften its immediate practical impact. Existing contracts for Iranian oil can be respected until July 1, an announcement said, and the ban will come under review before May 1 to see if more flexibility is needed.