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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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