- - Sunday, July 25, 2010

EUROPEAN UNION

EU to hammer Iran with oil sanctions

BRUSSELS | The European Union will hit Iran with tough sanctions against its vital oil and gas industry on Monday in a bid to lure Tehran back to the negotiating table over its disputed nuclear program.

EU foreign ministers will formally approve the sanctions following Iran’s repeated refusals to halt sensitive nuclear activities, which the West fears are aimed at building a bomb.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned the EU against imposing unilateral sanctions, saying Tehran would react swiftly and cause “remorse.”

“I should tell you that anyone who adopts a measure against the Iranian nation, such as inspection of our ships and planes, should know that Iran will react swiftly,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in remarks directed at the EU, which were translated into English by the Press TV channel.

The U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Tehran in early June, but EU leaders and the United States decided shortly after to impose their own penalties against the Iranian energy sector.

The sanctions are part of a twin-track approach with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton seeking to revive moribund talks between Iran and six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Western powers have demanded that Iran suspend its uranium-enrichment program, fearing that Tehran would use the material to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its atomic program is a peaceful drive to produce energy.

The new EU sanctions include a ban on the sale of equipment, technology and services to Iran’s energy sector, hitting activities in refining, liquefied natural gas, exploration and production, diplomats said.

The EU will ban dual-use goods that can be used for conventional weapons. It also will step up vigilance of the activities of Iranian-connected banks operating in the EU and bar them from setting up branches.

BRITAIN

Reports: BP CEO negotiating exit terms

LONDON | BP chief executive Tony Hayward is negotiating the terms of his departure ahead of the oil company’s results announcement, British media said Sunday. BP said Mr. Hayward retained the confidence of the board and management.

Citing unidentified sources, the BBC and the Sunday Telegraph said detailed talks regarding Mr. Hayward’s future had taken place over the weekend. The BBC said a formal announcement on Mr. Hayward’s exit is expected in the next 24 hours; the Telegraph said it would be made in the next 48 hours.

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