EU leaders mull new Iran sanctions after attack on Israel


The war in Gaza has exposed differences between EU countries between those closer to Israel and those supportive of Palestine, but on Tuesday there was no major opposition to imposing new sanctions against Iran.

The EU already has multiple sanctions programmes that target Iran – for human rights abuses, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and Tehran’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Several EU states eyed expanding a sanctions scheme that seeks to curb the supply of Iranian drones to Russia to include the provision of missiles and cover deliveries to Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo backed introducing sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps but Scholz said that required further legal checks.

On Tuesday, the bloc’s top diplomat said the bloc’s rules meant that could only happen if a national authority in the EU found that the group had been involved in terrorist activity.

Based on political decisions at the summit, EU foreign ministers are due to continue the sanctions work next Monday with the United States and its Western allies hoping new steps against Iran will help limit any Israeli retaliation.

Analysts say, however, Iran is unlikely to face severe punishment because of worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer China.

With the Middle East crisis capturing much of the EU’s attention, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for more help in holding the line against Russia, which unleashed an invasion against its neighbour more than two years ago.

“Here in Ukraine, in our part of Europe, unfortunately, we do not have the level of defence that we all saw in the Middle East a few days ago,” Zelenskyy told the summit after Israel and its allies mostly shot down the incoming drones and missiles.

“It reflects our current key need – the need for air defence,” he said, according to an EU official, repeating his calls for speedier deliveries of the weapons and ammunition promised to Ukraine.

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