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Monday, January 23, 2012

EU agrees on oil embargo of Iran

From Al Arabiya:
European Union nations agreed Monday to slap an oil embargo against Iran’s oil exports in a bid to halt funding of the country's disputed nuclear program, EU diplomats said.

“There is a political agreement on an oil embargo,” said a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity after early morning talks between ambassadors of the 27 EU nations. The deal is to be formally approved by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Their agreement was the final step before EU foreign ministers can give their formal approval to the measure. The EU’s 27 foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

“(EU ambassadors) have agreed on Iran sanctions,” the senior EU diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Under the deal, EU governments will have to stop signing new contracts with Tehran from the moment the ban comes into place -- probably as soon as this week -- but will be able to fulfill existing contracts until July 1.
This is huge news.

And this part is heartening as well:
Meanwhile, the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln passed through the Strait of Hormuz and is now in the Gulf, the Pentagon said, after Tehran threatened to close the strategic shipping route, while the European Union readied to slap an embargo on Iran’s oil exports Monday.

“USS Abraham Lincoln ... completed a regular and routine transit of the Strait of Hormuz... to conduct maritime security operations as scheduled,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby said in an email to AFP.

“The transit was completed as previously scheduled and without incident.”

The carrier, which can have up to 80 planes and helicopters on board, was escorted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St George and two destroyers.

Earlier, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said a British Royal Navy frigate and a French vessel had joined the carrier group to sail through the waterway.

While allied ships often participate in U.S. naval exercises and sometimes are part of joint naval flotillas, the presence of British and French ships seemed to be a message to Tehran about the West’s resolve to keep the route open.

“HMS Argyll and a French vessel joined a U.S. carrier group transiting through the Strait of Hormuz, to underline the unwavering international commitment to maintaining rights of passage under international law,” said a spokesman from Britain’s MoD.