Germany to launch effort at curbing European trade with Iran

Germany wants to create an informal European coalition for coordinated pressure on each country’s trade with Iran.

According to a report in the Financial Times of Germany on Nov. 15, the German government also has raised pressure on companies at home, in keeping with statements that Chancellor Angela Merkel made during meetings with US President George W. Bush last week.

Sources close to Merkel told the publication that Germany is building a coalition of Iran’s biggest European Union trading partners, with the aim of creating a coordinated campaign of pressure on businesses in each of those countries to cut back on dealings with the Islamic Republic. A member of the German parliament said the new coalition would include France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Austria.

 

The report said Berlin was already sounding out various leaders about pressuring specific companies that deliver goods that Iran cannot easily obtain through other sources – such as firms that manufacture maschinery and parts, as well as firms that trade in oil and gas.

Germany has insisted that tougher sanctions on Iran will only work if Russia and China sign on. But Merkel also told Bush she would be pushing businesses at home to take the initiative. Germany is Iran’s major trading partner in Europe.

Coordination is important to Germany, which does not want to see other European countries jumping in to fill the gap when German firms cut back on trade with Iran.

In addition, if the U.N. Security Council does not move soon on the issue of tougher sanctions, the European Union may well move ahead on its own talks about sanctions, the Financial Times of Germany report said, adding that a key obstacle could be Italy, Iran’s second biggest E.U. trading partner. Prime Minister Romano Prodi reportedly is skeptical about sanctions and prefers dialogue.

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