There is 'enough consensus' within the European Union to implement unilateral sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, even if the United Nations Security Council fails to agree on a resolution.
The West suspects Iran is developing nuclear weapons
Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU remained committed to seeking a UN resolution on sanctions against Iran, but lacking that, the 27-nation block would take action on its own.
He was speaking after an informal meeting with EU Foreign Policy Director Catherine Ashton and seven other European foreign ministers in Finland on Saturday.
"If we have succeeded in driving a common line one particular issue, I would pinpoint Iran," he said.
Germany, Britain and France have previously stated that they agree on the need for a fourth round of sanctions to restrict Iran's nuclear ambitions, but in the past some smaller EU members have expressed reservations. The details of any such sanctions package would therefore still have to be finalized.
'Enough consensus' for EU sanctions
'Time is running out'
Stubb said the issues would be discussed at a full foreign ministers meeting on March 22.
"Time is running out, so I'm sure this is going to be something that we'll deal with, if the UN Security Council fails, when we have our EU foreign ministers meeting," the Finnish minister said.
He added, however, that he was optimistic that Russia and China could be convinced to support a new resolution in the Security Council.
The European Union already has a range of trade bans in place on Iran to pressure Tehran toward a more transparent uranium enrichment program. The objective is to maintain these curbs, urge Iran to return to talks, and keep more punitive measures in reserve in case the situation calls for them.
Without going into detail, Stubb said that member states had suggested a variety of supplemental sanctions which included restrictions in the energy and financial sectors.
Editor: Andreas Illmer