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EU increases trade sanctions against Iran

Meeting in Luxembourg, EU Foreign Ministers plan to ratchet up sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme by approving new measures against Tehran's banking sector, industry, and shipping. European satellite provider, Eutelsat, has also blocked broadcasts from 19 Iranian television and radio stations in a move that is expected to hit hard at the Iranian diaspora. The new sanctions mark one of the toughest pushes against Iran by Europe to date, and come amid mounting concerns over the Islamic Republic's military intentions and the failure of diplomacy to solve the nuclear stand-off this year. Iran has strongly denied the accusations and has refused to bow to international pressure. But there are signs that the sanctions are taking effect with Tehran announcing that it is cutting imports of non-essential goods, bringing the country virtually to a wartime austerity footing. The Iranian rial has also hit record lows, sparking protests that were quickly quashed. Analysts have warned that regional tensions could escalate into conflict, with the US and Israel threatening military intervention if their demands are not met. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin on Sunday that Iran had not budged on any of the key issues and so the pressure must be increased through sanctions. He added that diplomacy was still an option.
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