Britain's Foreign Secretary has confirmed that unprecedented sanctions against Iran came into force on Sunday, 1 July. William Hague pointed out that these are the toughest EU sanctions imposed against Iran to date. At the same time, they signal the UK's clear determination to intensify the peaceful diplomatic pressure on the Iranian government.
In a press statement, Hague said that Britain is seeking a diplomatic, negotiated settlement with Iran. "We call on Iran to take concrete action to address international concerns about its nuclear programme," he said. "It is in the power of the Iranian leadership to end Iran's current isolation, but unless they change course the pressure will only increase."
Mr Hague said that Iran faces a choice over the course of the next few weeks: it can continue to obfuscate and avoid the critical issues, incurring tough sanctions and increasing international isolation. Or it can begin to cooperate seriously by discussing the steps it is prepared to take on its nuclear programme, and seizing the opportunity to secure a more prosperous and peaceful future for the Iranian people. "We urge the Iranian government to reflect seriously on its position and return to the negotiating table ready and willing to make diplomacy work," he added.
Last week, European Union member states approved unanimously the introduction of a ban on importing oil without further delay. The restrictive sanctions are targeted at Iran's nuclear programme, the people who run it and the money that funds it. Everyday goods such as food and medicines are excluded from sanctions to make sure that measures don't target the Iranian people. The sanctions include a ban on Iranian crude oil starting on the 1 July, and a ban on the provision of financial services related to the sale, purchase and transport of Iranian oil, including Protection and Indemnity insurance.
The embargo and US National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) sanctions have caused Iranian oil exports to drop by around 1 million barrels per day, which in real terms means almost $8 billion in lost revenues every quarter.