The European Union (EU) this morning announced that it has taken "further measures to ensure that EU financial institutions do not process funds that could contribute to Iran's nuclear programme or to the development of ballistic missiles." The organization's press release went on:
[The EU] prohibited all transactions between European and Iranian banks, unless they are explicitly authorised in advance by national authorities under strict conditions. Under these conditions, authorised trade can continue. In addition, the Council has decided to strengthen the restrictive measures against the Central Bank of Iran.
In particular the EU banned exports to Iran of graphite, certain metals such as aluminum and steel, and "software for integrating industrial processes."
The EU also banned imports of Iranian natural gas, "as well as finance and insurance related to these activities." In connection with that ban, the EU also blocked the use of vessels belonging to EU citizens and companies from transporting or storing Iranian oil and petrochemical products. No more shipbuilding is permitted, nor can any EU nation perform maintenance on existing vessels. The EU also banned the practice of registering vessels through a non-EU nation (called "flagging") for Iranian tankers and cargo vessels.
The EU Council noted:
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 Iranian regime itself can act responsibly and bring these sanctions to an end. As long as it does not do so, the Council remains determined to increase, in close coordination with international partners, pressure on Iran in the context of the dual track approach.
We noted earlier this morning a reported Iranian plan to block the Strait of Hormuz in an effort to force the EU, the United States and other nations to participate in a massive clean-up effort that would effectively lift the sanctions.