Sweden opposes new EU bans on Iran

Amid the European Union provisional approval of new embargoes against Iran over its nuclear energy program, the Swedish government is trying to prevent the bloc from imposing further sanctions fearing loss of lucrative deals.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official cited telecommunications deal between Swedish communications company Ericsson and Tehran as the real reason behind Sweden’s opposition to further EU sanctions on Iran, saying the deal will be in jeopardy in case of additional bans.

“We know that in Sweden they fear that if the deal between Ericsson and Iran is canceled this could have implications for the company’s other deals,” the Foreign Ministry official said.

“The Swedes fear that other countries … such as China will hear about the cancellation and worry about their ties with Ericsson,” added the source.

The EU foreign ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Monday to formally ratify a new round of embargos on Iran, despite a warning by the United Nations against the humanitarian repercussions of the sanctions already in place.

Despite pressure on the Swedish government to drop its opposition to the new sanctions on Iran, Swedish officials emphasized that bans only harm the Iranian people.

In addition to Sweden, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have also expressed their objection to further sanctions on Iran. This comes as any decision by the 27-nation bloc has to be unanimous and the four countries’ objections will dilute the list of new sanctions.

According to EU diplomats, the new measures target Tehran’s banking sector, industry and shipping.

The new embargoes will oblige European traders to obtain the authorizations of their respective governments prior to financing any permitted business transaction with Iran.

The bloc will also ban its member states from selling metals and graphite, a steel component, to Iran and providing the country with ship manufacturing know-how, oil-storage technology as well as flagging and classification services to Iranian tankers.

Based on the new motion, the EU will also freeze the assets of 34 Iranian companies.

The bloc’s new move comes in defiance of the UN chief’s recent remarks about the humanitarian ramifications of the previously-imposed embargoes. Ban Ki-moon warned on October 5 that the West’s sanctions have mainly targeted the livelihood of the ordinary Iranian population.

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