The 27 EU foreign ministers officially approved an Iranian oil embargo aimed at halting its nuclear enrichment programme. Minister Giulio Terzi said that Italy "is with Europe: we are certainly with Europe," he added. "We have been an element of impetus in the application of a dual track policy," he stressed. The pressure will stay on until "Iran returns to the negotiating table and suspends its nuclear enrichment programme." Terzi recalled that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton "is still waiting for an answer" from Iran in response to the 5+1 group's invitation to resume negotiations.
In consideration of mounting concern over the Iranian nuclear programme, the Council expanded the reach of the restrictive measures already in place, including the importation of crude oil and petroleum products. The embargo involves the importation, purchase and transportation of those products as well as associated banking and insurance activities. Previously stipulated contracts, the conclusions specify, may continue until July 1st 2012. A review of the measures affecting oil and its derivatives will take place by May 1st 2012. The Council also banned EU imports of petrochemical products from Iran, as well as EU exports to Iran of equipment and technologies essential to that sector. New investments or joint interests in the Iranian petrochemical industry are also banned. The ministers also froze EU-held Iranian banking assets, assuring that legitimate trade could proceed under very strict conditions."
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