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EU to reinstate sanctions on 40 Iranian companies

Shipping firms were removed from blacklist in January; attorney says move intended to pressure Tehran into nuclear deal

The European Union Parliament in Brussels (Russell Trow/CC BY 2.0/Flickr)
The European Union Parliament in Brussels (Russell Trow/CC BY 2.0/Flickr)

Dozens of shipping firms are set to be placed back on a European Union sanctions list as a means to pressure the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, according to letters obtained by Reuters and published Tuesday.

The move comes several months after the EU lifted sanctions on 40 firms linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) carrier. In January, the European Union’s General Court stated in a ruling that the multi-national body had not provided sufficient evidence that IRISL was actively supporting nuclear proliferation.

However, in a letter addressed to the shipping firms’ lawyer Maryam Taher earlier this month, the European Council indicated it would reinstate sanctions on the 40 companies.

Taher expressed outrage over the EU’s decision, saying the move was “purely politically motivated and not based on any proper evidence,” Reuters reported.

“The whole purpose of the EU sanctions is to leverage pressure on the Iranian government to come to an agreement in relation to nuclear proliferation,” she added.

Iran and six world powers are currently racing toward a landmark deal that would see some Iranian nuclear activity frozen in exchange for a lifting of some sanctions. Israel has lobbied against the agreement, saying Iran should not be trusted, but the US and others have said the agreement will include safeguards ensuring Iran is blocked from building a nuclear weapon.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, a claim rejected by the West.

On Monday, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the nuclear watchdog had made little headway in determining whether Iran has military ambitions for its nuclear program, and could not determine whether Tehran’s intentions were entirely peaceful

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM)
Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM)

Director general Yukiya Amano also said the IAEA had “good cooperation” with Tehran in the efforts to implement the terms of the November 2013 interim deal, but issues meant to clear up suspicions of weaponization work remained.

“As far as the implementation of the comprehensive safeguards agreement, we have some good cooperation with Iran,” Yukiya Amano said at a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference, according to Reuters.

“We are also implementing the Joint Plan of Action and we can also say the implementation is good. But with respect to the clarification of issues with possible military dimensions, the progress is limited and this is the area where more … cooperation from Iran is needed.”

Amano said the agency could not, at this time, establish whether the nuclear materials were not being used for military purposes.

“We continue to verify the non-divergence of nuclear material declared by Iran but we are still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful purpose,” he said.

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