Europe to Sanction Iran Oil

 The European Union has announced tough new sanctions on Iran’s oil industry today, Monday.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the sanctions will ban the import of Iranian oil and also restrict Iran’s trade in gold and precious metals, as well as freeze certain Iranian financial assets. Of the 2.2. million barrels of oil Iran exports a day, about 18% is bound for markets in Europe, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The world consumes about 89 million barrels of oil per day.

Final details are still being worked out, and it’s expected the sanctions will have a grace period of three to eight months, an EU diplomat told CNN. The grace period will allow European refiners to find new suppliers and Iran to find new buyers.

The move, which was widely expected, follows similar actions by the United States and the United Kingdom. They are all aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran to give up its nuclear program, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes buy many suspect is intended to produce a bomb.

Analysts have said that while the new sanctions are the toughest ever imposed, they still contain many loopholes. Western leaders have been walking a fine line with Iran, working to come up with a plan that squeezes the country’s finances yet doesn’t result in a loss of Iranian oil exports, which could send crude and gasoline prices skyrocketing.

 

Source: CNN

Image: All Voices

S. Korea: ‘New Era’ Relations With N. Korea Possible

The South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, offered Monday to cooperate with North Korea to begin a “new era” of relations between the two countries, a day after Pyongyang had said it would defend its new leader, Kim Jong Un, to the death.

The president said in a live televised broadcast that the South is prepared to offer economic aid to the North, if Pyongyang is willing to give up its nuclear program. But he emphasized that Seoul will keep up its guard against any aggression from its unpredictable neighbor. Lee’s remarks may fall on deaf ears in Pyongyang, which has recently directed a barrage of invective at his government.

North Korea published a New Year’s editorial Sunday in which it described the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as the main obstacle to peace on the peninsula. The editorial also called the South Korean government “traitors” for not allowing more citizens to visit the North to pay respects to Kim Jong Il, who died on December 17.

Kim’s elaborate funeral and memorial service, held by the North last week, appeared to cement the position of Kim Jong Un, his son and chosen successor, as the country’s new “supreme leader.” But the change in leadership has not so far brought any signs in a change in the regime’s stance toward South Korea. The North Korean state-run media KCNA on Friday quoted a National Defense Commission statement saying that Pyongyang would have “no dealings” with Lee’s government.

 

Source: CNN.com

Image: The Telegraph