News / Europe

Europe Debates Iran Oil Sanctions Amid Debt Crisis

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) stands with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in Cuba, January 12, 2012.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) stands with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in Cuba, January 12, 2012.
Henry Ridgwell

Europe is gearing up for a summit later this month on a new set of sanctions against Iran's oil industry, following a similar move by the United States. Analysts say the EU members who are the worst-hit from the euro debt crisis stand to lose the most from any sanctions.

With sanctions tightening, Iran’s leader toured South America, including a stop in Cuba Wednesday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking for new friends and new markets.

The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on oil companies trading with Iran, in response to Tehran's nuclear enrichment program. Now it's Europe's turn. The EU will meet on January 23 to agree on its own embargo.

Professor Paul Stevens of the London-based analyst group Chatham House, said agreement won't be easy. Europe's most indebted countries are also Iran's main customers.

“Particularly Greece, for example, is dependent for about a third of its oil imports on Iran, on very favorable financial terms and given the situation in Greece, they would not give that up lightly. Also, Italy, for example, is owed quite a lot of money, or the Italian company ENI is owed quite a lot of money by the Iranian government, which is being repaid in oil,” said Stevens.

Stevens said Japan, China and India all buy between four-hundred to five-hundred thousand barrels of Iranian oil a day. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been touring Asia trying to persuade them to cut back.

But many Europeans remain unconvinced that sanctions will stop Iran from pursuing what the West believes is a nuclear weapons program - a charge Tehran denies. British political commentator Simon Jenkins predicts there will be a backlash and the Iranian opposition will suffer.

“It’ll make the Iranian regime be very tough with anybody who seems to be liberal-minded, pluralistic, open to outside influences, particularly open to Western influences. Everything to do with sanctions will make the situation within Iran worse not better. It [sanctions] certainly has never toppled a regime,” said Jenkins.

Iran is flexing its military muscle - staging recent exercises in the Gulf. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf - through which a fifth of the world's oil passes each day. Energy analyst Paul Stevens said that would lead oil prices to skyrocket and spark a global financial crisis.

“Closing the Strait of Hormuz or attempting to close it is Iran’s trump card. It is a major deterrent against the U.S. or Israel attacking Iran over this nuclear issue. I find it very unlikely, therefore, that they’re going to play that trump card over something like a new oil embargo,” said Stevens.

Still, the U.S. and Europe aren't taking any chances. Britain's most advanced warship - the HMS Daring - has set sail on its maiden voyage to the region. The British Ministry of Defense says it's a routine deployment - but insists the ship's crew is prepared for any scenario. Meanwhile, the U.S. reportedly has sent a message to Tehran saying it will not tolerate any attempts to block the Strait of Hormuz.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid