Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti says complying with the European Union sanctions against Iran will cause many problems for the country’s ailing economy.
Speaking to reporters in a joint press conference with the president of the European Parliament, Martin Shulz, in Rome, Monti noted that Italy is grappling with serious economic recession and crisis and cutting Iran oil imports will cause the country to suffer more than other EU members.
The Italian premier added that due to heavy dependence on energy, Italy feels the pinch of Iran oil sanctions more than other European countries, but Rome is unable to disobey certain decisions.
Meanwhile, the Italian official news agency, ANSA, published a report quoting energy experts as saying that sanctions against Iran are useless and will only harm Italian and other European companies.
Referring to high trade volume between Tehran and Rome, the report added that given the existing economic crisis in Europe, compliance with sanctions may be an end to the longstanding presence of Italian companies in Iran, which will be replaced with Turkish and Chinese companies.
ANSA further stated that complying with Iran sanctions will also cost Italians 30,000 jobs.
On January 23, EU Foreign Ministers met in Belgium to approve new sanctions against Iran aimed at banning member countries from importing Iranian crude oil and carrying out transactions with its central bank.
The EU has considered a period of six months before sanctions are fully enforced in order to allow member states to adapt to new conditions and find new sources of crude oil.
EU decision followed imposition of similar sanctions by Washington on Iranian energy and financial sectors on the New Year’s Eve which seek to penalize other countries for buying Iran oil or dealing with the its central bank.
After approving new sanctions, EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told reporters that the sanctions aim to persuade Tehran to suspend its peaceful nuclear activities and get back to negotiating table with P5+1 -- comprising US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program, using this pretext to impose sanctions against Iran and threaten the country with military attack.
Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and member of IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful use.
The IAEA has never found any evidence indicating that Tehran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted towards nuclear weapons production.