The EU on Monday significantly strengthened its financial and trade sanctions against Iran, addressing in particular financial, telecom and energy transactions in the face of the deadlock in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program .
Additionally, an Iranian Minister has been added to the EU asset freezes and visa ban blacklist, according to a diplomat.
The new round of sanctions was adopted by the European Ministers of Foreign Affairs at a meeting in Luxembourg. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague assured that the EU does not intend to stop there in the coming months.
In particular, the EU bloc decided to strike for the first time the telecom sector, and decreed a prohibition in principle of all financial transactions between Iranian and European banks. Exceptions are made for remittances by individuals, or for humanitarian or payments related to purchases of food and medical equipment.
In addition, short term export credit insurance will be banned, after medium and long term were already suspended.
In addition, imports of Iranian natural gas will also be prohibited, a measure that has minor effect but adds to the ban on Iranian oil imports in force since July. The export of materials that can be used for Iranian nuclear and missile programs such as graphite or aluminum is also prohibited to Iran.
Other measures, such as banning Iranian ships to register or provide Iran with new tankers to transport its oil, and the freezing of assets of 30 new companies, mainly in the field of banking and oil sector, are also planned.
These measures are in addition to those already in place, such as the oil embargo which came into force in July. "We will intensify the pressure and will continue to do so over the next few months, unless the negotiations are continuing," Hague warned on arrival at the meeting in Luxembourg.
"We are of course open to successful negotiations" on the controversial Iranian nuclear program, he added.
The head of European diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, who is the representative of the great powers on the Iranian nuclear issue, said she would continue "to make every effort to explore" a negotiated solution with Iran. "We want a negotiated solution, but at the same time we will continue to keep the pressure" on Tehran to return to the negotiating table, she said.