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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

EU Calls for Tightening of Sanctions on Iran

22 January 2007

The European Union called on all countries Monday to enforce United Nations sanctions against Iran and announced a series of measures it would take against Tehran's efforts to develop a nuclear program. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said their sanctions targeted the most sensitive parts of Iran's nuclear and missile programs. They include a travel ban on individuals associated with Iran's nuclear program and freezing their assets. Those people would also not be able to carry out transactions with the 27-nation block.

Europe, the United States and other world powers fear Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, although Tehran insists its activities are for peaceful purposes. A number of experts fear the U.N. sanctions aren't tough enough to get Iran to stop its nuclear activities.

But the E.U.'s announcement comes amid increasing divisions in Iran over the bellicose rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Within this context, says Hugo Brady, a research fellow at the London-based Center for European Reform, the European sanctions and warnings may carry extra bite.

"It's riding the wave of a certain realization that Ahmadinejad may have overstepped the mark," said Hugo Brady. "With his own base at home being eroded, there's a last ditch attempt to make political sanctions work before military sanctions start becoming a topic of serious discussion."

And nobody, Brady says, wants military sanctions. Nonetheless, there are those - like Brady - who fear that the military option cannot be completely ruled out, particularly when it comes to Israel. The Iranian president has vowed to "wipe Israel off the map."

So far, Israeli officials have only called for the international community to impose harsher U.N. sanctions. But some have not forgotten that Israel bombed a nuclear plant in Iraq in 1981 to prevent Baghdad from developing a nuclear bomb. Brady, of the European reform center, believes a similar scenario with Iran would be disastrous for the Middle East. He says if the sanctions work, it would be a success for European diplomacy.

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