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EU tightens financial grip on Iran with new sanctions

LUXEMBOURG -- European Union foreign ministers on Monday agreed a slew of tough new financial and trade sanctions against Iran aimed at forcing a breakthrough in stalled talks on Tehran's contested nuclear programme.

The new package targets EU dealings with Iran's banks, shipping, and gas imports. Under the package, the EU bans all transactions between European and Iranian banks unless authorised in advance by national authorities. It also tightens existing sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran.

Imports of Iranian gas will be prohibited, a symbolic gesture since the amounts involved are small, but the move sits alongside the much more significant July ban on imports of Iranian oil.

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