EU agrees tough new financial, trade sanctions against Iran

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European Union foreign ministers on Monday adopted tough new financial and trade sanctions against Iran aimed at forcing a breakthrough in stalled talks on Tehran's contested nuclear programme.

The new package of sanctions targets EU dealings with Iran's banks, as well as trade and gas imports. Details on those targeted will be released Tuesday but a government minister is on the new blacklist, diplomats said.

A statement expressing concern over Iran's nuclear drive said the EU had "agreed additional restrictive measures in the financial, trade, energy and transport sectors".

An EU asset freeze and travel ban would be imposed on more people and firms, notably "entities active in the oil and gas industry," it said.

"In particular, the Council has agreed to prohibit all transactions between European and Iranian banks" unless authorised in advance, including for humanitarian reasons.

Existing sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran would be strengthened and extra goods banned for export to Iran -- graphite, metals, software for industrial processes and oil tankers.

"The restrictive measures agreed today are aimed at affecting Iran's nuclear programme and revenues of the Iranian regime used to fund the programme and are not aimed at the Iranian people," the statement said.

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