The long-running standoff between Iran and the west over Tehran’s nuclear programme has shifted into a more unpredictable phase after Europe decided to impose an oil embargo on the Islamic republic.
The decision by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels raised the stakes dramatically in the war of wits between Iran and the west.
The EU decided no further oil contracts could be struck between the member states and Iran while existing oil delivery deals would be allowed to run until July.
Several countries shared reservations about the move, EU diplomats said. Greece was the trickiest problem since it imports a lot of Iranian oil on very favourable conditions. Given the financial collapse in Greece, it was in a difficult position and sought compensating measures from the rest of the EU. The impact of the embargo on countries such as Greece is to be reviewed in May.