Ashton - Reuters, July 1, 2011
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton speaks in Vilnius July 1, 2011. Photo by Reuters
Text size

The European Union is set next week to consider blacklisting the Syrian central bank as well as imposing sanctions against more Iranian individuals, according to sources on Wednesday familiar with the situation.

A decision to impose sanctions on the Syrian central bank had been taken in principle, and would be presented to an EU foreign affairs committee on Monday, said a person familiar with the situation.

A written procedure for adoption could then follow, possibly in a week or so, the source said.

In addition the EU's foreign affairs council was likely on Monday to add 29 people to the list of 32 Iranians targeted by asset freezes and visa bans because of serious human rights violations, an EU official said.
The official said the EU was increasingly worried about use of the death penalty in Iran, including against minors.

European governments have pushed strongly in recent months to step up economic pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad in the hope of ending six months of violence against anti-government demonstrators. The EU wants to block access to funds for Assad's government, officials have said.

On Tuesday a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution that could have led to sanctions against Syria was blocked when Russia and China vetoed it. Turkey on Wednesday said it would impose its own sanctions against Syria.

Last month, European Union governments banned European firms from making new investments in Syria's oil industry. The EU also banned the delivery of Syrian banknotes and coins produced in the European Union.

Before that, the EU banned the import of Syrian crude oil, and froze the assets of several Syrian companies and entities. The EU has also imposed travel bans and asset freezes against officials involved in the crackdown.

The 29 Iranians will be added to a list of 32 people that EU governments imposed punitive measures on in April.

The U.S. State Department has said that Iran executed about 312 people in 2010, many after trials conducted in secret. In many cases people who were executed for supposedly criminal offences were actually political dissidents, the department said in a report.

EU sanctions focus mostly on economic and trade measures aiming to force Iran to slow its nuclear program, which Tehran says serves peaceful purposes but Western powers worry aims to produce weapons.