As Rouhani Tours Europe, France Requests New Sanctions on Iran

Paris has asked its European partners to consider the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Tehran after the recent missile tests conducted by the Islamic Republic.

The news emerged just as Iran’s Supreme Leader Hassan Rouhani begins his two-day visit in Paris to sign billion dollar contracts with about twenty French companies, including the purchase of 114 aircraft from Airbus.

Following an unauthorized missile test carried out by Iran on October 10, four countries—USA, France, Germany and Britain—had asked the UN Sanctions Committee for an investigation. Tehran said at the time that its ballistic missiles were exclusively defensive, not designed as nuclear warheads and therefore did not fall under any UN resolution.

Speaking under anonymity, two EU officials reportedly told the Associated Press that the request was formalized last week at the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 28, just days after the EU and the US lifted sanctions against Iran on January 16.

The two said the French request followed on the U.S. imposition of new sanctions against Iran over the firing of a medium-range ballistic missile, a decision that took place on January 17.

While the U.S. government has lifted the nuclear sanctions against Iran, it continues to impose other sanctions over Iran’s human rights policies and support for terrorism, so in practice American citizens and companies are still barred from many forms of investment or trade with the country.

The French proposal is currently before the EU. Most members of the Union, however, reportedly consider such a measure to be counterproductive in in the face of current efforts to renew political and economic ties with Iran after the long frigid period over Iran’s nuclear program.

The French government declined to comment on the news, and EU officials would not confirm the French request. A diplomat in Paris, however, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as saying that the EU was examining the option of imposing new sanctions on Iran, though he would not say which of the 28 governments had taken the initiative.

On Thursday, Rouhani will meet with executives of Confindustria French before visiting the Élysée Palace, where he will be received by French President François Hollande.

Paris reportedly wishes to draw Tehran into a role as peacemaker in a Middle East, where Iran has actively supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, as well as in Yemen.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome


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