At long last, a sense of urgency and of what is at stake has set in with regard to Iran’s nuclear program. If Iran were really in it for the electricity, why would it waste time and money bending over backwards in secrecy and subterfuge? They would not commit economic suicide just to mess with Washington and Brussels. “EU bans Iran oil imports,” by Laura Rozen for The Envoy, January 23:
The 27-member European Union voted Monday to ban imports of Iranian oil, and to sanction some transactions with Iran’s Central Bank.
The action, passed at a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, immediately bans EU member states from signing any new oil contracts with Iran, and orders the phasing out of existing contracts by July 1. The EU-bloc previously constituted the second largest customer for Iranian oil after China.
“Given the EU’s serious and deepening concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme, the Council today broadened the EU’s restrictive measures against that country,” the European Union said in a statement (.pdf) announcing the action. “Today’s decisions target the sources of finance for the nuclear programme, complementing already existing sanctions.”
EU officials “also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and ban trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and state bodies,” Reuters reported.
The development came days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Iran to respond to a proposal for new international talks on curbing its nuclear program.
“We all are seeking clarity about the meaning behind Iran’s public statements that they are willing to engage, but we have to see a seriousness and sincerity of purpose coming from them,” Clinton said at a news conference with her German counterpart Guido Westerwelle at the State Department Friday.
Iran “can come back to the table, as we have consistently made clear to them, and address the nuclear program concerns that the international community rightly has or face increasing pressure and isolation,” she said, adding: “I want to underscore we do not seek conflict.”
A U.S. official briefed on the effort to execute the Iran oil sanctions told Yahoo News Sunday that the measures are being implemented as world demand for oil is going down, and thus should be able to be phased in without a spike in oil prices. But markets do not always act logically, he noted…
No, they pretty much act like a particularly easily alarmed squirrel.