European Union approves new sanctions against Iran and Syria
REPORTING FROM LONDON — The European Union agreed to new sanctions against Iranian entities Thursday in the wake of a report alleging that Tehran had pressed ahead with its ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.
EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, also increased sanctions on Syria to protest the ongoing crackdown by the Damascus regime on pro-democracy protesters.
Regarding Iran, Europe's governments kept up their condemnation of the trashing of the British embassy in Tehran by an angry mob of protesters earlier this week. Italy summoned the Iranian ambassador in Rome on Thursday to denounce the attack. Germany, France and the Netherlands have all temporarily recalled their envoys from Tehran in solidarity with Britain, which shut down its embassy there Wednesday and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave London.
In Brussels, EU foreign ministers decided to add 180 individuals and companies to the list of Iranian entities under financial sanction. The move followed a report last month by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog citing evidence that Tehran had pushed ahead with tests aimed at developing an atomic weapon.
But officials stopped short of imposing an embargo on Iranian oil, a more drastic step that some European countries have urged.
Before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his gratitude for "the emphatic support" Britain has received from its neighbors over the storming of its embassy in Tehran. He said he would seek "intensification of the economic pressure on Iran -- peaceful, legitimate economic pressure, particularly to increase the isolation of the Iranian financial sector."
The foreign ministers also added 23 more individuals and companies to the list of those under sanction in Syria. The ministers warned that the country risked heading down a "very dangerous path" of sectarian conflict and violence.
-- Henry Chu
Photo: A police car outside the Iranian embassy in London. On Wednesday, the British government gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Credit: Stefan Wermuth / Reuters