Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Conservatives call for EU to get tough on sanctions

9th March 2007

As the world's major powers struggle to reach agreement on new UN sanctions against Iran, Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman accuses the EU of "profiteering from terrorism" by encouraging trade with the rogue regime.

Brussels 9th March -- European governments are implicitly backing Iran's bid to join the nuclear club by using export guarantees to boost trade between the EU and Iran to record levels*, the Conservatives reveal today.

The EU is Iran's top business partner - the rogue regime imports 40% of its goods including components for its engineering industry from the EU and exports 24% in return. Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman in the European Parliament, states that, after 2003, when Tehran was obliged to admit that it had been pursuing a secret nuclear programme for eighteen years, EU credit guaranteed exports to Iran rose 29 % to Ä12.9 billion. In 2005 after the UN condemned Iran for its violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, these export guarantees were not stopped but generously increased.

Charles Tannock says:

"We can no longer carry on with "business as usual" between Iran and the EU and economic sanctions must now be severely tightened as so much of trade with Iran is with direct offshoots of the rogue regime.

"The EU is in classic appeasement mode: Iranís nuclear ambitions are treated as someone else's problem with our narrow economic interests taking priority. They seem to have fallen prey to the illusion that a nuclear Iran would have no real impact on Europe. But there could be no bigger mistake. An Iran with nuclear weapons would be a nightmare not only for Israel, but also for global security as it triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle-East."

"I call on EU member states, and in particular Germany, to remove their export credit guarantees to European based companies doing business with Iranian state enterprises."

"Europe must cease to be the silent partners in terrorism. We must put a stop to the international competition to see who can make the dirtiest deal in Iran. British companies like BP have to their credit already disinvested from Iran on ethical grounds. Others must be encouraged to follow suit."

The potential leverage of economic sanctions couldnít be clearer. A study by the Iranian Parliament has stated that without European spare parts and industrial goods the Iranian economy would grind to a halt within a few months. If anyone is still in a position to use this lever before it is too late, then it is Germany which currently presides over the EU.

European export support bolsters the Mullahsí nuclear ambitions in three ways.

1.†† A proportion of any money lent to the regime is spent on nuclear research. Iran wants to allocate 1.4 billion US dollars for the construction of 20 new nuclear reactors. Iranian state TV reported last week that a Parliamentary Committee has now approved this expenditure.

2.†† Every export deal strengthens the internal political position of the hardliners in government, who are invariably also support the military nuclear weapons programme.

3.†† Iran is getting state-of-the-art technology of a sort that can potentially be dual used in the nuclear sphere as well. For example, in August 2003 Siemens - a firm with expertise in the field of civil nuclear power station construction - signed a contract for the delivery of 24 power stations. To make this deal, Siemens had to commit itself to "technology transfer with regard to small and medium-sized power stations".

The real pan-European support for Iran, however, relates to the Nabucco project for a giant oil pipeline running directly from the Iranian gas fields to the city of Baumgarten in Lower Austria. Austriaís OMV is heading up the international group which is to carry out the Ä5 billion project. The final decision on this project is to be made at the end of this year. If this pipeline is built, the relationship between Europe and the Mullahs would change. In this case Iranís Islamist regime would become Europeís new strategic indispensable energy partner. It was precisely in February 2006, as the Iranian presidentís bellicose tirades reached their height, that the European Investment Bank decided to put a billion dollars into this project. However, this Bank is an EU institution. It gets its capital from the EU member states. As the EUís credit instrument, it is obliged to pursue the EUís political and ethical goals.

Charles Tannock added: "Does propping up the economy of a regime that publicly hangs young women and men for their sexual misdemeanours count as one of the EUís political goals? It is vital for the European Investment Bank to review its decision to grant USD 1 billion to the construction of the Nabucco pipeline."
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