EU eases economic sanctions on Iran

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European Union foreign minister agreed to suspend some economic sanctions against Iran on Monday (20 January) as part of a ground-breaking nuclear deal under which Tehran has scaled back its nuclear work.

The decision, which eases restrictions on trade in petrochemicals and precious metals and on the provision of insurance for oil shipments, among other measures, was expected to go into effect later in the day.

“The prohibition on the import, purchase or transport of Iranian petrochemical products and related services has been suspended,” the EU ministers said in a statement.  “To enable the transport of Iranian crude oil and petrochemical products, the prohibition on the provision of vessels is also suspended.”

Shipments of crude oil to Europe therefore remain prohibited but European firms can now lawfully re-start crude shipments to some of Tehran’s biggest customers, like China, India or Japan.

Arriving in Brussels for the meeting, British foreign minister William Hague said reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had showed Iran was fulfilling its side of the deal to stop nuclear enrichment, which was concluded in November last year.

Hague said the EU will be fulfilling its side of the agreement by lifting a ban on imports of petrochemical products as well as trade in gold and precious metals from Europe.

The EU sanctions will be suspended for a period of six months.

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