Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nations may block oil, gas investment in Iran - Gates

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council resolution against Iran could clear the way for individual states and the EU to block foreign companies expanding Tehran's oil and gas exports, and impose other penalties to curb business activity, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday.

But Gates said Iran, like North Korea and Myanmar, seemed "impervious to external pressure" to change course.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pauses during a news conference with British Defense Secretary Liam Fox (not pictured) at Lancaster House in London June 8, 2010. (REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster/Pool)

In an interview taped hours before the Security Council voted to impose new sanctions on Iran, Gates said the U.N. resolution provided a legal platform for countries to take "more far-reaching steps individually".

Gates told al Jazeera's "Frost Over the World" programme that tougher measures could target front companies for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards including shipping lines and imports.

"There are a variety of areas that can be targeted preventing foreign companies from going in to help them maintain or grow their oil or gas export capability or any other business enterprises," Gates said, according to a transcript of the interview, which was taped in London.

"The key here is actually to get the Iranians back to the table and to arrive at an agreement where they forego having nuclear weapons as not being in their own interests. That is really the objective that we are seeking here," Gates added. (Reporting by Adam Entous; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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