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EU Agrees to Turns Up Heat on Tehran

EU nations will implement UN-agreed sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, including restrictions on public loans and tougher cargo inspections, the European presidency said.

Präsident Mahmud Ahmadinejad

Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful

The European Union voted on Friday, Aug. 8, to implement United Nations-agreed sanctions on Iran. It instructed its financial institutions to exercise "restraint" on export credits and allowed its navies to inspect Iran-bound cargoes.

The UN text, agreed in March, called upon states to "exercise vigilance in entering into new commitments for public provided financial support for trade with Iran," but the EU went further in urging member states to exercise "restraint."

Individual countries threaten sanctions

Members of the Security Council of United Nations vote 14-0 on a resolution to increase sanctions against Iran at U.N. Headquarters Monday, March 3, 2008

In March, the Security Council voten on sanctions

An EU regulation -- backed by diplomats last week and also officially approved on Friday -- urged the 27 EU states to exercise vigilance over Iranian financial institutions. It said countries should be especially wary of one of Iran's largest banks, Bank Saderat.

Furthermore, the United States, Britain, Germany and France agreed on Friday to consider independent sanctions against Iran.

These are beyond measures already taken by the United Nations Security Council and beyond steps likely to be considered in a possible next round of UN sanctions, said an official who spoke to AP news service anonymously.

He said the measures would be issued by individual countries rather than any international body, such as the United Nations. They will target vulnerable areas of the Iranian economy. Among the areas considered is Iran's energy sector.

The diplomat did not give a time frame on Friday for concluding talks on the plan.

Ongoing diplomatic tussle

The EU decision comes as major world powers are engaged in a diplomatic tussle with Iran over its uranium enrichment program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but the West fears is part of a weapons program.

The Security Council has already ordered three rounds of sanctions against Iran.

Along with the threat of further sanctions, Washington has warned that the option of military action remains open.

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