BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union has agreed to go beyond United Nations sanctions on Iran, instructing its financial institutions to exercise “restraint” on export credits and allowing its navies to inspect all Iran-bound cargoes, a senior diplomat said on Wednesday.
However, the EU regulation implementing the latest U.N. resolution on Iran will only be formally adopted next week after a deadline expires for Tehran to reply to an offer by major world powers to start negotiations on its nuclear program.
The diplomat said Britain, France and Germany, the three EU powers that have been holding exploratory talks with Iran alongside the United States, China and Russia, pressed for the 27-nation bloc to go beyond the U.N. resolution.
“Britain, France, Germany and Italy wanted to be robust and go beyond (U.N. Security Council resolution) 1803 and implement what they had to sacrifice to Russia and China to get it through the Security Council,” he said.
The U.N. text calls upon states to “exercise vigilance in entering into new commitments for public provided financial support for trade with Iran”, but the EU regulation will urge member states to exercise “restraint”.
The U.N. resolution also mentions only inspection of cargoes to and from Iran of aircraft and vessels owned or operated by two named Iranian companies, whereas the EU rules will allow checks on all cargoes to and from Iran.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana asked Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili at a meeting on July 19 to give a clear answer within two weeks to the offer of formal negotiations if Tehran freezes uranium enrichment.
The West suspects the enrichment is designed to give Iran a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists it is purely to generate electricity for civilian purposes.
While EU diplomats said no formal reply had yet arrived, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed in remarks quoted by state radio on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would pursue its nuclear path.
Reporting by Yves Clarisse, writing by Paul Taylor; editing by Robert Hart