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

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    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.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora