LONDON - France, Germany and Britain are proposing a tough list of additional sanctions to be imposed against Iran over its disputed nuclear program, the Financial Times newspaper reported yesterday.
The FT quoted some European diplomats as saying the list was meant to provide U.S. President Barack Obama's administration with a "bigger stick" in a carrot-and-stick approach aimed at getting Iran to stop nuclear activity. It quoted others as saying the three European Union powers, known informally as the "EU-3", wanted to encourage a more hard-line outcome of Washington's review of its Iran policy, expected to be completed next month.
Effect on new US approach
A European diplomat familiar with the issue told Reuters the EU-3 were not trying to toughen Obama's approach. "This is no attempt to influence the United States' policy review. But it's aimed at strengthening Obama's ability to act," he said.
Obama has said the United States is prepared to talk to Tehran, in a turnabout from predecessor George W. Bush's approach. But his administration has also said tougher sanctions are possible if Iran keeps refusing to stop uranium enrichment. Another EU diplomat said there was consideration late last year about extra sanctions but no consensus was reached. He said nothing would be done that would pre-empt Obama's review.
In Tehran, Iranian officials declined comment on the FT report. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly rejected any carrot-and-stick policy as insulting, fit only for "donkeys".
Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear program is aimed at building an atomic bomb because of its record of secrecy and restricting IAEA scrutiny. Tehran said it is enriching uranium purely for peaceful power generation.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment. But Russia and China, not seeing Iran as a threat to peace, balk at more sanctions, which has spurred separate EU3 initiatives.
The EU trio, together with the United States, China and Russia, comprise a less than united group of world powers trying to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran.
All the individuals on the new EU-wide sanctions proposal face penalties for the first time, the FT said, including the commander and deputy head of the paramilitary Basij force. State-run Iranian organizations named for the first time include Sharif University of Technology, Iran Insurance Company, Iran Air Cargo, Iran Space Agency and Razi Institute for Serum and Vaccine Production. Six banks and their Tehran headquarters were mentioned, including Bank Tejarat, one of Iran's largest commercial banks, for the first time.