EU removes sanctions from Iranian oil tanker company

Legal officials fail to appeal July court ruling on the matter, effectively annulling limitations on the business

European Union sanctions against Iran’s leading oil tanker firm were dissolved on Tuesday — at least temporarily — after the union failed to appeal a court ruling which annulled them, Reuters reported.

The sanctions, imposed in 2012, prevented any dealings between the EU and the National Iranian Tanker Company, but the NITC argued in a Luxembourg court that it was privately owned and not tied to the Iranian government, and thus should be exempt from punitive measures. The court accepted this position in July, giving officials two months to appeal its ruling — something they did not do.

“We are relieved to see the lifting of these sanctions,” NITC’s managing director Ali Akbar Safaei told Reuters. “We have always enjoyed good business relationships with our EU partners and look forward to resuming those now this difficult period has come to an end.”

But an EU official said efforts were still being made to reverse the decision.

“The time for appeal had elapsed, but work is still ongoing on remedial action for maintaining the entity on the list” of sanctioned companies, the official said.

Inspectors from the UN’s atomic watchdog met Iranian officials in Tehran Tuesday over efforts to gain access to nuclear facilities, a day after reports emerged of a deadly blast at a suspected nuclear site.

An International Atomic Energy Agency delegation, headed by deputy director general and head of the department of safeguards Tero Tapio Varjoranta, was to hold fresh talks with Iranian officials to discuss oversight measures of Iran’s nuclear program, widely believed to be for weaponization purposes.

Diplomats said last week that inspectors will continue to lobby for greater access to suspected nuclear facilities, Reuters reported.

The official IRNA news agency said the visitors were expected in the capital on Monday night ahead of talks with Iranian officials.

“The visit of Tero Varjoranta, deputy director general of the IAEA, and a delegation will continue discussions to finalize the last two points” on which an explanation from Iran is sought, it said.

Those two questions — to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran — focus on concerns that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities have military dimensions.

The Vienna-based IAEA disclosed in September that Iran had failed to meet an August 25 deadline to provide information on five points meant to allay fears it was developing nuclear weapons.

One of the IAEA’s questions centers on Iran’s purported experiments with large scale high explosives.

Under an agreement reached in November 2013 with the IAEA, Iran has already responded to 16 of the 18 issues the agency identified as relevant to Iran’s nuclear activities.

The IAEA visit came a day after two people were reported to have been killed in an explosion at a defense ministry plant east of Tehran. The Defense Industries Organization, quoted by IRNA, said a fire broke out at the plant on Sunday night but it gave no further details.

Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program. The base lies at the center of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.

Tehran, which has denied IAEA inspectors access to Parchin since 2005, insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian uses.

Iran and world powers have set a deadline in November to reach a final deal after reaching an interim accord last year.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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