EU backs off from new sanctions against Iran — for now

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European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Luxembourg on April 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (R), EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) and Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attend an EU foreign affairs council in Luxembourg on April 16, 2018. (AFP / Emmanuel Dunand)
Updated 17 April 2018
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EU backs off from new sanctions against Iran — for now

  • Irish FM stressed need to send a strong signal to Iran about its activities
  • Targets for new sanctions could include both Iranians and non-Iranian militias in Syria

JEDDAH: EU foreign ministers met on Monday for talks on how they could persuade the US not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, but stopped short of imposing new sanctions on Tehran.
Britain, France and Germany used a meeting of the EU’s 28 foreign ministers to try to build support for expanding sanctions against Iran to punish it for its regional expansionism and its role in the conflict in Syria.
They hope that by doing so they will persuade US President Donald Trump not to follow through on his threat to abandon the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelson said there was “a very broad majority” in favor of expanding sanctions, as the clock ticks down to a May 12 deadline imposed by Trump to “fix” the agreement.
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said there was a need to “send a strong signal to Iran that we’re concerned in relation to some of their activity, particularly in Syria.
“But also to send a message to Washington that we share their concerns in some of those areas,” Coveney said after the talks in Luxembourg.
Targets for new sanctions could include both Iranians and non-Iranian militias in Syria. But any decision would have to have unanimous support, and countries such as Italy and Sweden are not convinced.
“There is no consensus at the moment,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.
“I don’t exclude that this will happen in the future but it’s not the case today.”


Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019
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Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”