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EU Agrees To Ramp Up Iran Sanctions After Attack On Israel

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The European Union has reached an agreement to bolster sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran’s attack on Israel this month, following a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.

In a press briefing held in Luxembourg on Monday, EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said EU members had agreed for new sanctions to cover the production of missiles and enlarge the catalog of prohibited drone-related components.

The measures are expected to build upon existing sanctions imposed on Iran for its involvement in supplying drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“The sanctions would also be expanded beyond Russia to cover drone and missile deliveries not only to Russia but also to proxies in the region,” Borrell added.

Citing the use of Iranian missiles against Israel, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis pointed to the need to restrict the transfer of missile components.

Lithuania, and a coalition of nine countries including Germany, France and the Netherlands, had previously called for an expansion of sanctions targeting Iran’s drone and missile industry.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, during an EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on April 22, 2024

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomed the move, expressing his support for the sanctions on X. In the post, written in Persian, Katz underscored the significance of the EU’s action in sending a clear message to the Iranian regime – tagging the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Israel had also called on Western countries to list the state’s paramilitary force – the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) – as a terrorist entity.

While the EU has sanctioned a number of individual IRGC members on human rights grounds following domestic acts of repression, it has not followed through with a designation arguing there are no legal grounds for it. This despite the European Parliament’s approval of a resolution calling on the bloc to consider the “terrorist” designation early last year.

Several foreign ministers voiced concerns about the stagnation of nuclear negotiations with Iran – although the issue was not on Monday’s EU foreign ministers’ agenda.

Landsbergis expressed skepticism about the viability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – abandoned by the Trump administration in 2018, while his Austrian counterpart, Alexander Schallenberg, likened Iran’s nuclear ambitions to a “black box,” citing a lack of transparency and trust in international efforts to monitor its activities.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of including Tehran’s proxies in the sanctions, recognizing their role in exacerbating regional tensions in the Middle East.