This article in the LA Times makes clear that the recent unilateral sanctions on Iran by the US will have little effect unless Europe—Iran’s biggest trading partner—follows suit. It seems the British are strongly supporting the push for sanctions, however, as noted Europe also has much at stake in the gambit—namely, losing contracts to Russian and Chinese firms. Both Russia and China oppose sanctions on Iran.
…Several European banks have curbed their ties with Tehran. But European oil and engineering firms continue to do a robust trade, underwriting much of Iran’s new oil and gas expansion and industrial operations.
Still, a consensus is emerging that the European Union will have to adopt its own unilateral sanctions, possibly within the next few weeks, to complement the U.S. action. Europe’s support is needed, particularly in the face of Russian and Chinese reluctance, if the administration hopes to force Iran to back down on its controversial uranium enrichment program.
Bringing on board nations such as Germany and Italy, which together had more than $7 billion in exports to Iran last year, will be difficult. Berlin already saw Russia pick up the contracts German companies abandoned for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station; now, European companies fear that Russia and China will move in if the EU imposes sanctions outside a U.N. framework.
There are signs, however, that both Germany and Italy are prepared to back whatever consensus is reached within the EU.
Irancove @ October 27, 2007