nuclear controversy

Sweden To Introduce New Iran Sanctions?

The Swedish government announced Thursday that it would reluctantly support a European Union proposal to expand trade sanctions against Iran, that could affect some tens of thousands of Iranians living in Sweden. This country will join other EU nations in tightening sanctions with the hope that Iran will open up about its nuclear program.

Though deciding to support the sanctions, Swedish government ministers told the media Thursday that they didn't think the sanctions were the right way to go with Iran. They're concerned with effects on trade and on the almost 90 000 Iranians living in Sweden.

Trade minister Ewa Björling told Radio Sweden that she thinks tighter sanctions will only have a limited effect on some big Swedish companies that do business in Iran, such as Volvo and Saab. The sanctions are also expected to affect Swedish banking and insurance companies with a knock on effect of hurting banks in Iran.

Countries in the west have long suspected that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, but the country has denied the allegations, saying that its nuclear program is only for energy. Officials hope the new sanctions will get Iran to negotiate about the scope of their nuclear development.

The new EU proposals go beyond sanctions which the United Nations Security Council adopted on June 10 and which Sweden already imposes.

Catherine Ashton, the EU minister for foreign affairs, is expected to make a decision about the proposed new sanctions next Monday.