EU adopts Iran oil embargo

Catherine Ashton

BRUSSELS — 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, while western nations are concerned that Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons.

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

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

The new sanctions were met with additional threats from Iranian parlimentarians 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 parliamentarian Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said. “So far, Iran has not used this privilege.”