Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sceptical on Tuesday about the efficiency of the latest round of European Union sanctions in reining back Iran’s nuclear programme.
The sanctions, agreed upon on Monday by the EU foreign ministers at the insistence of Britain, Germany and France, are aimed at strengthening previous curtailments on Iran’s energy and financial sectors.
The new sanctions include asset freezes of 30 Iranian companies and institutes, including Iran’s national oil firms, and will close some of the loopholes that allowed Iran to continue international energy trading. The United States announced similar new sanctions last month.
At a meeting with European ambassador on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu said that while he “commend(s) the EU on the new sanctions that are hitting the Iranian economy hard”, the sanctions “still have not rolled back the nuclear programme.” At his speech to the UJIA on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron was more upbeat on the sanctions, saying that they “have slowed the nuclear programme.”
A report in Haaretz about Israeli Foreign Ministry fears that Sweden was trying to block the sanctions in order to facilitate a large deal between Iran and communications company Ericsson sparked a furious reaction from Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Israel’s envoy in Stockholm was called in for remonstrations over the alleged leaks.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded angrily to the new sanctions, saying that they will not force the country to return to talks.
The last direct talks took place a month ago between the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili in Istanbul, but there is no scheduled date for a resumption of full-scale talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany.