European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran. Administration officials say a new American drive to reduce exports to Iran and cut off its financial transactions is intended to further isolate Iran commercially amid the first signs that global pressure has hurt Iran’s oil production and its economy. There are also reports of rising political dissent in Iran. (...)The European Union is now implementing the limited UN sanctions against Iran. Is it time for (full) economic sanctions against Iran? Unfortunately, there is not much of a debate about it in Europe, is there? Dear readers, are you in favor of tougher sanctions?
The Bush administration has called on Europe to do more economically as part of a two-year-old trans-Atlantic agreement in which the United States agreed to support European efforts to negotiate a resolution of the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. Typically, American officials say, European companies that do business with Iran get loans from European banks and then get European government guarantees for the loans on the ground that such transactions are risky in nature. According to a document used in the discussions between Europe and the United States, which cites the International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers, the largest providers of such credits in Europe in 2005 were Italy, at $6.2 billion; Germany, at $5.4 billion; France, at $1.4 billion; and Spain and Austria, at $1 billion each. In addition to buying oil from Iran, European countries export machinery, industrial equipment and commodities, which they say have no military application.
More after the fold: Continue reading "Europe refuses to cut trade with Iran, and the U.S. refuses direct negotiations"