(Bloomberg) The European financial crisis and the ineffective effort to stop Iran’s nuclear-weapons program are crashing into each other. As the European Union adopts new restrictions on importing Iranian oil, the most-troubled EU economies will continue to seek delays and exceptions.
Ironically, France and the U.K., which for years resisted strong U.S. efforts to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, are now leading the EU charge. Of course, neither France nor Britain imports significant amounts of Iranian oil, so the economic impact on them will not be major. However, the potential consequences for financially troubled EU countries are grave. Greece, for example, imports about a third of its oil from Iran, and would be badly harmed if its energy costs rose. So would many southern EU members. Italy imports about 12 percent of its oil from Iran, and Spain about 15 percent.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the EU’s sanctions negotiations have been tough, even brutal. Continuing pressure for delays and exceptions, combined with the absence of meaningful enforcement provisions, leaves each EU country to police its own compliance.
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