The European Union joined the US, Britain and Canada in expanding sanctions against Iran. The EU agreed in principle to sanction some 200 Iranian companies, organizations and individuals for the role in development of the country’s nuclear program. The decision needs to be formally approved by EU foreign ministers during their meeting on 1 December. European companies will be banned from doing business with the listed firms and organizations, while individuals will be subject to asset freezes and visa bans.
The EU action comes a day after the US named Iran as an area of “primary money laundering concern,” a step designed to dissuade non-US banks from dealing with the country. Britain and Canada have also banned all its financial institutions from doing business with Iran.
The expanded sanctions do not target Iran’s oil exports, the country’s driving force of economic activities and growth and its main source of hard currency. The banking sanctions, however, are expected to raise the cost of financial transactions for the country substantially and disrupt the normal flow of commerce, at a time when Iran is facing serious economic and political issues internally.