- The decision Monday by the European Union to phase out purchases of Iranian oil by Jul. 1 is timed to U.S. legislation that has the same deadline for sanctions against foreign banks that continue to do business with the Iranian central bank. However, European and U.S. experts on Iran cite the fear of a new war as a key reason for the EU decision.
“The French administration is worried about Israel attacking Iran this year,” a French researcher, speaking on condition of anonymity because he advises the French government, told IPS Wednesday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, answering questions Tuesday in the House of Commons, said the new sanctions are designed to “to lead us away from any conflict by increasing the pressure for a peaceful settlement of these disputes.”
The EU decision reflects Israeli success in pressuring both the United States and Europe. Israeli officials have repeatedly called for “crippling” sanctions against Iran, suggesting that might forestall their use of military force against Iran’s nuclear facilities – and collateral damage in terms of sharply higher oil prices and increased regional instability.
There is particular concern that Israel might act in 2012 out of concern that Iran is nearing nuclear weapons capability and in the belief that the Barack Obama administration would be obliged to support Israel in a U.S. presidential election year.