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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora