LONDON (Reuters) - France, Germany and Britain are proposing extra EU sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the Financial Times reported Thursday but France said no such measures would be passed any time soon.
A confidential document seen by the FT and Italian newspaper Il Riformista lists 34 Iranian entities and 10 individuals believed to be linked to covert nuclear or biological weapons programs, the London-based daily said.
“We worked on that a long time ago and for the moment there is no question of applying them,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters. “I can tell you that it is not on the agenda.”
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions against Tehran for pressing ahead with its nuclear program despite Western fears that it could produce an atom bomb. European Union sanctions would be in addition to those.
Iran says it only wants to generate electricity.
Asked at a news conference with his Saudi counterpart to confirm the contents of the list in the FT, Kouchner said: “I absolutely cannot confirm that for a simple reason, which is that it is not true. There is no decision on sanctions in sight under the auspices of the European Union.”
However, officials from the so-called “EU3” — France, Britain and Germany — said they had worked on new sanctions against Iran but the details were still being discussed.
The FT said the list would extend sanctions to people including the commander and deputy head of the paramilitary Basij force. Entities named included Sharif University of Technology, Iran Insurance Company, Iran Air Cargo, Iran Space Agency and Razi Institute for Serum and Vaccine Production.
Six banks and their headquarters were mentioned, including Bank Tejarat, one of Iran’s largest commercial banks.
Similar measures have been reported before. French newspaper Le Monde said last month France and Britain were pushing for EU sanctions targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors.
“This is a possible list for inclusion in future EU or U.N. sanctions,” a British government source said of the FT report.
The FT quoted some European diplomats as saying the list was meant to provide U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration with a “bigger stick” in a carrot-and-stick approach aimed at getting Iran to stop nuclear activity.
It quoted others as saying the EU3 wanted to encourage a more hardline outcome of Washington’s review of its Iran policy, expected to be completed next month.
Obama has said he is open to direct talks with Tehran, in a shift from his predecessor George W. Bush’s approach. But his administration has also said more sanctions are possible if Iran keeps refusing to ignore calls to halt sensitive nuclear work.
“This is no attempt to influence the United States’ policy review. But it’s aimed at strengthening Obama’s ability to act,” a European diplomat said.
Another EU diplomat said there was consideration late last year about extra sanctions but no consensus was reached. He said nothing would be done that would pre-empt Obama’s review.
“We have our own responsibility if things don’t move forward to have our own list in case it were necessary,” an EU3 official said.
In Tehran, Iranian officials declined comment on the FT report. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly rejected any carrot-and-stick policy as insulting, fit only for “donkeys.”
Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Paris, Kerstin Gehmlich in Berlin, Mark John in Brussels and the Tehran bureau; writing by Francois Murphy, Keith Weir and Mark Heinrich in Vienna