In a most recent policy U-turn, European Union foreign ministers hinted on Monday that their countries could be prepared to impose new economic sanctions on Iran, Reuters reported.
The sudden shift of policy came after France and Denmark accused Tehran of being allegedly behind a series of plots to carry out attacks on their soil. During a meeting in Brussels French and Danish foreign ministers filled in their fellow EU counterparts on the details of the alleged Iranian plots, although no details or names were discussed, Reuters quoted diplomats as saying on Tuesday.
France has imposed sanctions on two Iranians and Iran's intelligence service over what it says was a botched attempt to stage a bomb attack at a rally near Paris organised by an exiled Iranian opposition group.
In October, France said it was certain about the Iranian intelligence ministry’s role in the June plot to attack a demonstration by Iranian exiles near Paris.
Also in October, Denmark said it suspected an Iranian government intelligence service of plotting an assassination on its territory and is also ready to join possible EU-wide sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran has denied any involvement in either alleged plot and warned that it could pull out of the nuclear deal if EU powers do not stand up for its trade and financial benefits.
The readiness to punish Tehran would be the first such move in years by the EU, which has been trying keep in place the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. Brussels has been unwilling to consider sanctions, instead seeking talks with Tehran.
In March, a joint proposal by Britain, France and Germany to sanction Iran over its development of ballistic missiles and its role in the Syrian war failed to gather sufficient support across the EU, including from Italy which wants to maintain business ties with Iran.
During the meeting on Monday, the EU foreign ministers tried to balance the EU’s policy towards Iran by speeding up the creation of a special mechanism to trade with Tehran that could be under EU, not national, law.
Dubbed the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), this mechanism could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods as part of a barter arrangement, thus circumventing US sanctions, which are based on global use of the dollar for oil sales.
Despite technical difficulties and delays, the EU hopes this arrangement could protect individual member states from being hit by the sanctions Washington has threatened to use against countries that continue doing business with Iran.