UPDATED – EU puts embargo on Iranian oil

Helle Thorning-Schmidt had called for the action last week

UPDATE, JAN 24: Iranian authorities have called the Danish ambassador to Tehran to explain of why the EU has decided to impose an oil embargo on Iran. The Iranians asked for the Danish ambassador because Denmark currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

ORIGINAL, JAN 23: The European Union’s 27 foreign ministers agreed today to impose an embargo on oil from Iran and to freeze accounts in EU banks belonging to IranÂ’s central bank. The moves are being made to protest and attempt to hinder Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt called for the sanctions on Tehran last week.

“It is important that we are very clear about where we stand as a union,” she said.

The sanctions include an immediate embargo on fresh crude oil and petroleum contracts, with those already underway allowed to run until July.

Increased fears that Iran is trying to create atomic weapons led to the moves. Tehran, however, says its nuclear program is peaceful.

The ministers hope the sanctions will encourage Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

The six-month delay in implementing the plan is viewed by many as a compromise to help economically-strapped Greece, who relies heavily on cheap Iranian oil.

Villy Søvndal, the foreign minister, has said that he would prefer to see the sanctions imposed sooner rather than later.

“We understand Greece’s problem, but postponing sanctions is a bad idea,” he said.

Søvndal said that EU countries will try to help Greece find a solution to their supply problem.