BRUSSELS: European Union foreign ministers will adopt tighter sanctions against Iran next week, including measures to block oil and gas investment and curtail its refining and natural gas capability, EU diplomats said on Tuesday.
A draft declaration prepared for a meeting of EU foreign ministers showed they would approve a decision taken by EU leaders on June 17 to adopt further sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme, and also call on Iran to resume talks.
The measures, which go beyond steps approved by the United Nations on June 10, are designed to put pressure on Tehran to return to talks on its uranium enrichment programme which Western powers believe is designed to produce nuclear weapons. The draft declaration said that the ministers, who will meet in Brussels on Monday, will approve the new sanctions "in accordance with the European Council Declaration of June 17", referring to the decision taken by EU leaders at a summit.
It said that the measures were adopted "with a view to supporting the resolution of all outstanding concerns regarding Iran's development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programmes, through negotiation". The declaration is still to be endorsed by EU ambassadors, meeting in Brussels this week, but big changes are unlikely.
The new EU steps focus on trade, banking and insurance, transport including shipping and air cargo, and important sectors of the gas and oil industry. EU leaders said, on June 17, that the energy sector sanctions would prohibit "new investment, technical assistance and transfers of technologies, equipment and services related to these areas, in particular related to refining, liquefaction and liquefied natural gas technology".
Iran denies its nuclear programme is aimed at producing weapons and says it is for energy and other peaceful purposes.
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