Bloomberg News

EU to Consider More Sanctions on Iran Over Nuclear Program

December 12, 2011

(Updates with comment by European Union President in fourth paragraph. For more news on the OPEC meeting, see {EXT3 <GO>})

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- European Union governments will consider imposing stiffer sanctions on Iran amid “serious and deepening concerns” over the country’s nuclear program, according to a EU summit statement.

The bloc will “proceed with its work related to extending the scope of EU restrictive measures and broadening existing sanctions by examining additional measures against Iran as a matter of priority,” it said.

The EU didn’t spell out a possible ban on the purchase of Iranian oil, a measure Greece blocked last week. Foreign ministers will decide on the next set of sanctions on Jan. 30, according to the statement. The bloc is weighing a boycott after a Nov. 8 report from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program as recently as last year, a charge the Islamic republic denies.

“We reaffirm our concern, we count on the foreign ministers to complete work on new sanctions next month,” European Union President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters after the summit in Brussels today.

Stricter sanctions against Iran, the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, may raise the nation’s oil exports to Asia and increase prices for similar-quality crudes from Russia and the Middle East, Barclays Plc said. OPEC ministers meet on Dec. 14 in Vienna.

If the EU halts dealings with Iranian lenders, including the central bank, Iran would lose customers who buy 500,000 to 800,000 barrels a day of its crude exports, which total about 2.3 million barrels, the bank said.

“Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and France are significant buyers of Iranian crude,” Helima Croft, a Barclays analyst in New York, said in the report. “Should an oil embargo and the associated displacement of supplies go ahead, Mediterranean refiners would likely face a noticeable increase in costs, as the heavy nature of the Iranian crude that comes into Europe can only be substituted by Russia and Saudi Arabia.”

--With assistance from Lananh Nguyen in London. Editors: Raj Rajendran, Rachel Graham

To contact the reporter on this story: Jurjen van de Pol in Brussels at jvandepol@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James G. Neuger at jneuger@bloomberg.net


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