EU Oil Embargo: Sanctions Benefit Iran's Revolutionary Guards [View all]
The so-called oil weapon has been part of the arsenal of international power politics ever since the 1970s. In 1973, the oil-exporting countries in the Middle East cut back daily production in a bid to force the West to abandon its support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Iran was among the states involved in that embargo. Now, almost four decades later, oil is again being used as a weapon -- with the roles reversed.
On Monday, European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban the import of petroleum and petrochemical products from Iran from July 1, 2012. New investments in Iranian oil companies will no longer be permitted, nor can equipment and technology necessary for the oil industry be exported to Iran any more. Financial sanctions will also be strengthened, and a large chunk of the assets of the Iranian Central Bank will be frozen. In addition, the US Treasury has put the Iranian Tejarat Bank on its blacklist. The bank was "one of Iran's few remaining access points to the international financial system," according to the department.
The embargo is designed to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. Negotiations between Iran on one side and the group of the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China on the other have been on hold for a year. Tehran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, has made recognizing Iran's right to enrich uranium a precondition for a resumption of the talks.