Iran has strongly condemned the European Union’s latest move to impose fresh sanctions on a number of Iranian institutions and companies despite the ongoing negotiations between representatives of Iran, the US and the EU in the Omani capital, Muscat.
“Under the circumstances that the nuclear negotiations are going on and efforts by the negotiating parties are underway to reach an acceptable agreement, this move by the European Union is questionable and contradicts the purpose of talks and the opposite side’s commitments,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Sunday.
She added that EU’s move to impose bans on a number of Iranian entities was a sign of “unusual insistence” on EU’s past policies and an “astonishing move” at the current juncture.
Iran has voiced objection to the European Union through its embassy in Brussels.
Afkham’s remarks came after the Council of the European Union announced on November 7 that the bloc has imposed sanctions on Iran’s Sina Bank, Power Plants’ Equipment Manufacturing Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company (a.k.a. Naftiran Trade Company) (NICO), and Naftiran Intertrade Company Srl.
It added that an Iranian businessman, Sorinet Commercial Trust Bankers, and Sharif University of Technology should be included again on the list of persons and entities subject to restrictive measures on the basis of a new statement of reasons.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the EU’s representative, Catherine Ashton, kicked off trilateral talks in the Omani capital, Muscat, on Sunday to exchange views on the outstanding issues hindering a final deal on Tehran’s civilian nuclear work.
Sources close to the Iranian negotiating team say the main stumbling block in the way of resolving the Western dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy program remains to be the removal of all the bans imposed on the country, and not the number of centrifuges or the level of uranium enrichment.
Tehran wants the sanctions entirely lifted while Washington, under pressure from the pro-Israeli lobby, insists that at least the UN-imposed sanctions should remain in place.