European Union governments moved closer to halting oil purchases from Iran on Wednesday, stepping up the confrontation over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Bloomberg reported that EU foreign ministers are aiming to announce harsher sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking industries at their next meeting on January 30.
According to the report, the move is possible after Greece lifted its objections to an oil embargo on Iran.
Last month, the European Union tightened its sanctions on Iran but stopped short of imposing an oil embargo pushed for by France and Britain, because of a “certain number of reservations” Greece had.
However, the Greeks have since decided to abide by any EU-imposed embargo, an official at the Greek environment, energy and climate ministry told Bloomberg.
“We want to tighten sanctions on Iran -- the things that have been mentioned are the oil sector and the financial sector,” EU spokesman Michael Mann told Bloomberg.
The U.S. welcomed the push toward an embargo, the report said, with State Department Victoria Nuland saying, “This is consistent with tightening the noose around Iran economically. The place to get Iran’s attention is in the oil sector.”
U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday signed into law tough new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and financial sector. The measures were contained in a $662 billion defense bill.
The sanctions dealt Iran a potentially lethal economic blow even before they took effect, sending the local currency into a nosedive.