Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Iran Dismisses EU Sanctions; Denies War Rumors

Iran said today that new sanctions imposed by EU over its uranium enrichment activities could actually reinforce its resolve to develop the country's nuclear program.

“This kind of behavior will make the Iranian nation and government more determined in obtaining their rights,” said Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini [IRNA, 24 June].

The EU yesterday froze the assets of Bank Melli, Iran’s largest bank. The operations of Bank Melli offices in London, Hamburg and Paris will be stopped. Under new sanctions, 20 individuals and 15 organizations were also added to the EU's visa-ban and assets-freeze lists. Those on the list were officials and experts believed to have links with Iran's nuclear and ballistics programs. The new sanctions were imposed after Iran refused to stop uranium enrichment activities.

Iran today denied a rumor that unsettled Western financial markets that Iran’s nuclear facilities were under attack.

“This is just a rumor. No attack against Iran's nuclear facilities has taken place,” Reuters quoted an Iranian official as saying [Reuters, 24 June].

In a related story, John Bolton, former US ambassador to UN, predicted today that Israel will attack Iranian nuclear facilities after US presidential elections in November and before President Bush leaves office in January 2009.

"[The Israelis] are obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgment is they would not want to do anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it could have on the election,” said Bolton.

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