New EU sanctions expanding Syria asset freeze and introducing new Iranian measures, including a ban on bank transfers and gas imports

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I. Summary -

On 15 October 2012, the Council of the European Union (EU) decided to expand its sanctions against both Iran and Syria. For Iran, EU sanctions have been broadened considerably to further target Iran’s nuclear and ballistic programmes and related revenues of the Iranian government. Most importantly, the EU Council has replaced existing fund transfer monitoring mechanisms with a ban on most EU bank transactions involving Iranian banks, and introduced a new ban on EU import, purchase and transport of Iranian natural gas (along with related EU financing). Other new sanctions measures include a broadened ban on EU supply of key equipment for the Iranian oil, gas and petrochemical industries; a new ban on EU sale, supply or transfer of certain materials (including graphite and raw or semi-finished metals such as steel and aluminium) and certain industrial processing software to Iran, along with related technical or financial assistance; further restrictions on bank transfers through the Central Bank of Iran and EU supply of Iranian trade financing; and a variety of new restrictions relating to Iranian use and construction of cargo vessels and oil tankers (including a ban on EU sale, supply or transfer of key naval equipment and technology and related financial and technical assistance and a ban on provision of flagging and classification services). Further, 34 Iranian entities and one person have been added to the EU’s list of designated parties subject to an asset freeze.

The EU’s sanctions against Syria have been reinforced with the designation of another 28 persons and two entities as subject to the EU’s asset freeze, along with a new ban on EU purchase, import or transport of arms and related materials from or originating in Syria (along with related financing) and a ban on EU airport access for Syrian Arab Airlines.

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