By Ria Novosti
The United States expect the European Union to take steps to pressure Iran back into negotiations on its controversial nuclear activity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
“We have a very strong partnership with the EU, and we expect to see the EU taking some additional steps to keep the pressure on Iran in the coming days,” Clinton said during a news conference with her German colleague Guido Westerwelle.
The statement came as the European Union is expected to impose tough new sanctions on Tehran on Monday, banning the import of Iranian oil.
Of some 2.2. million barrels of Iranian daily oil exports, 18 percent is bound for European markets, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oil exports make up some 60 percent of the Tehran’s revenues.
Iran’s continuing “pursuit of nuclear weapons,” as well as “needless provocations” such as the threats to block the strategic Straits of Hormuz, place the Islamic Republic on a “dangerous path,” Clinton said.
“Iran does have a choice to make,” she said. “It can come back to the table… and address the nuclear program concerns that the international community rightly has or face increasing pressure and isolation.”
“I want to underscore, we do not seek conflict,” she added. “We strongly believe the people of Iran deserve a better future.”
Western nations suspect Iran, which is already under numerous international sanctions, of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week a ban on Iranian oil exports would “hurt” ordinary people and was more about stirring up unrest than nuclear non-proliferation.
“This has nothing to do with a desire to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation,” he said. “It’s aimed at stifling the Iranian economy and the population in the apparent hope of provoking discontent.”
Sanctions would also prove “an obstacle” to the revival of a dialog between Iran and the six world powers involved in negotiations on its nuclear program, Lavrov said.