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EU Stops Short Of Imposing Additional Sanctions On Iran

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrives to attend an EU foreign affairs council in Luxembourg, April 16, 2018

Meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers strongly defended the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, and declined to impose new sanctions against Iran over its role in the Syrian conflict.

"There is no consensus at the moment on the fact that these measures would be useful in this moment, or appropriate in this moment," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after the April 16.

She added that further consideration on how to deal with Iran's role in Syria "will happen in the coming days or weeks."

Britain, France, and Germany had used a meeting of the EU's 28 foreign ministers to try to build support for expanding sanctions against Iran over its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We disagree with the role that Iran plays in Syria," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. "And that is why, in particular, my French colleague and myself, but also the British colleague, have once again addressed the topic of sanctions."

The nuclear deal reached by Tehran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany -- in July 2015 provided Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic program.

But U.S. President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline to either improve or scrap the accord, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump accuses Tehran of violating the spirit of the nuclear deal and called on European powers to "fix" what he says are the "terrible flaws" of the agreement. He wants new restrictions to be imposed on Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

"One thing is clear to all of us," Mogherini said of the 28 EU nations. "We want to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran. We want to see the full compliance by all to all commitments included in the deal."

Mogherini said the EU takes Iran’s activities in the region "extremely seriously, and that is why we already have a sanctions regime in place addressing some of this behavior."

Last week, the European Union prolonged sanctions against Iran over its "serious human rights violations” for another year.

The sanctions, which consist of travel bans and asset freezes against 82 people and one entity, were first put in place in 2011. They also include a ban to export equipment to Iran that might be used for internal repression as well as equipment for monitoring telecommunications.

With reporting by AFP, dpa and AP