News / Europe

Europe Evaluates Sanctions on Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech near the Azadi (freedom) tower at a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, February 11, 2012.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech near the Azadi (freedom) tower at a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, February 11, 2012.
Lisa Bryant

The European Union has responded with a shrug to Iran's threat to cut off oil exports to some EU members several months before an EU embargo on Iranian oil takes effect.  At the same time, Iran has floated an offer to resume talks on its nuclear program.  Does this mean sanctions by the EU and other nations are working - or is Tehran simply playing for time?

In recent days, Iran has been sending what some see as mixed messages to Europe - and to the world - related to its controversial nuclear program.

On Wednesday, Iranian television showed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad overseeing what was described as Iran's first home-made fuel rod being loaded into a research reactor.  Iran also announced advances in its uranium enrichment program.  But this week also brought news that Iran is willing to resume negotiations on its nuclear program with Europe and other Western powers.

Despite Iranian denials, many nations believe Iran is secretly using its civilian nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons.  The United Nations, United States and EU have imposed a variety of sanctions in a bid to stop that.

So how should Tehran's apparently conflicting signals be read?  With difficulty, says Nick Witney, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

"If you're an optimist, you can say that the Iranians are actually seriously worried - as they ought to be - about what is going to happen progressively as the year goes on, as the sanctions tighten - and are looking for a way to at least explore some sort of accommodation," said Witney.

Iran's worries not only include EU and U.S. sanctions, but also repeated reports that Israel is considering a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.  Under this scenario, Witney says, Iranian threats could be a way to coax world powers to return to the negotiating table.

Alternatively, Witney says Iran may be determined to acquire a nuclear bomb - and negotiation offers may simply be its way to bide time.

The European Union has been pushing the diplomatic route to end the standoff on the nuclear issue.  It has been steadily tightening sanctions against Tehran - aimed to cripple its financial and oil lifelines.  The EU embargo of Iranian oil is due to begin July 1.  Even if Iran cuts off supplies now, this EU spokeswoman told reporters that Europe isn't worried.

"If you're talking about security of supply, we say in this market that oil is something that you can get on international markets," she said. "I know that Saudi Arabia has already said that they would increase the production. So what we hear from member states is that they will switch to the other suppliers and that will be the case."

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that as its coffers dwindle, Iran is resorting to bartering to import basic foods. So are EU and other Western sanctions working?  Again, analyst Nick Witney:

"I think so. I do agree the sanctions are encouraging Iran back toward the negotiating table," he said. "Now, whether they have any intention when they get back to the negotiating table to negotiate realistically is anybody's guess."

The EU is studying Iran's overture to resume the nuclear negotiations, which stopped a year ago.  But Witney says Europe sees few options to resolve the standoff besides more talks - and more sanctions.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs