The Council exchanged views on Iran and its nuclear programme. It adopted the following conclusions:
1. “Recalling the European Council conclusions of 9 December 2011 and the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 1 December, the Council reiterates its serious and deepening concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme and in particular over the findings on Iranian activities relating to the development of military nuclear technology, as reflected in the latest IAEA report. The recent start of operations of enrichment of uranium to a level of up to 20% in the deeply buried underground facility in Fordow near Qom further aggravates concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran’s acceleration of enrichment activities is in flagrant violation of six UNSC Resolutions and eleven IAEA Board resolutions and contributes to increasing tensions in the region. The Council calls upon Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA, including in the context of the planned visit by its Deputy Director General for Safeguards.
2. Iran continues to refuse to comply with its international obligations and to fully co-operate with the IAEA to address the concerns on its nuclear programme, and instead continues to violate those obligations. In this context and in accordance with the Council conclusions of 1 December 2011, the Council has agreed additional restrictive measures in the energy sector, including a phased embargo of Iranian crude oil imports to the EU, in the financial sector, including against the Central Bank of Iran, in the transport sector as well as further export restrictions, notably on gold and on sensitive dual-use goods and technology, as well as additional designations of persons and entities, including several controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
3. The Council again reaffirms the longstanding commitment to work for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in accordance with the dual-track approach. The Council stresses that the restrictive measures agreed today are aimed at affecting the funding of Iran’s nuclear programme by the Iranian regime and are not aimed at the Iranian people. The Iranian regime itself can act responsibly and bring all sanctions to an end.
4. The Council reaffirms that the objective of the EU remains to achieve a comprehensive and long-term settlement which would build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, while respecting Iran’s legitimate rights to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in conformity with the NPT. Supporting the ongoing efforts by the EU High Representative and reaffirming the importance of close co-operation with the E3+3, the Council urges Iran to reply positively to the offer for substantial negotiations, as set out in the High Representative’s letter of 21 October 2011, by clearly demonstrating its readiness to engage in confidence building measures and, without preconditions, in meaningful talks to seriously address existing concerns on the nuclear issue.” At the same time, the Council adopted a package of restrictive measures targeting the sources of finance for the Iranian nuclear programme. For details, see press release 5457/12.
The Council discussed the situation in Syria and adopted the following conclusions:
1. “The European Union remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria and the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and calls again for an immediate end to the violence. The EU is particularly concerned by the recent escalation of violence and reiterates its condemnation in the strongest terms of the brutal crackdown by the Syrian government which risks exacerbating even further the spiral of violence, sectarian clashes and militarization. President Assad must step aside immediately to allow for a peaceful and democratic transition.
2. The EU strongly condemns the bombs attacks in Damascus on 23 December 2011 and on 6 January 2012 causing scores of deaths and injuries. Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation and by whosoever committed. The EU also condemns the attack on 11 January that killed a French journalist and several Syrian civilians, injuring many more people, including a Dutch journalist. The EU calls for light to be shed on this attack. The Syrian authorities have a responsibility to guarantee the safety of journalists in their country. The press must be allowed to carry out its vital role of providing independent information on the events in Syria without fear of violence or repression.
3. The EU welcomes the League of Arab States’ resolution of 22 January and its initiative to seek UNSC support for a political solution . The EU is deeply concerned by the Syrian authorities’ lack of cooperation and urges them to fully comply with the League of Arab States’ Action Plan and their commitments undertaken in that respect, to completely stop acts of violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove troops, tanks and weapons from cities, and allow independent observers and the media, to freely travel in and report on Syria.
4. The EU recalls its support to the League of Arab States’ efforts to end the cycle of violence in Syria, and to the deployment of its monitoring mission, including through the setting up of the LAS situation room. The EU welcomes the UN readiness to provide training and assistance to the League’s monitors and encourages the League to accept UN assistance to ensure technical support for the mission.
5. The EU welcomes the League of Arab States’ decision to extend its observation mission and to reinforce its capacity to report independently on the situation in Syria. The EU takes note of the League of Arab States’ decision to appoint a Special Envoy for Syria.
6. The EU condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on the League of Arab States’ mission monitors and calls for an impartial and swift investigation into the events. The mission must be able to act safely and with independence and to access all detention facilities.
7. Given the Syrian regime’s continued use of violence against civilians, the EU has today designated further 22 individuals and 8 entities to be subject to restrictive measures. The EU will continue its policy of imposing additional measures against the regime, not to the civilian population, as long as repression continues. Following the assessment of EU Member States, the listing of designated persons who have dissociated themselves from the repressive policy of the regime will be reconsidered. The EU calls on the international community to join its efforts to target those responsible for or associated with the violent repression and those who support or benefit from the regime
8. The EU reiterates its strong support to the Syrian people and encourages the Syrian opposition to make all efforts to strengthen coordination on the way forward in order to realise an orderly transition to a Syria that is democratic, stable, inclusive and that guarantees minority rights. It supports the efforts of the League of Arab States in this respect. The EU will continue to engage with representative members of the Syrian opposition, such as the SNC, which adhere to non violence, inclusiveness and democratic values.
9. The EU reiterates its strong concerns about the deteriorating living conditions of the Syrian people in a great number of localities affected by the unrest. The Syrian authorities must immediately alleviate the suffering of the population living in these areas, respect and protect the wounded and sick, guarantee unhindered access to medical care without any discrimination or reprisal and refrain from intimidation of those providing medical assistance. The Syrian authorities must allow full and unimpeded access of relief personnel from international humanitarian organisations for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid to persons in need of assistance.
10. The EU urges all members of the UN Security Council to uphold their responsibilities to end the violence against the Syrian population and support the Syrian people in their desire for freedom and political rights. The EU welcomes the establishment by the UN Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Syria and urges the Syrian Government to fully cooperate with the Rapporteur. The EU recalls the main findings of the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry which stated that crimes against humanity may have been committed in the country. The EU looks forward to the next debate of the UN Human Rights Council on Syria on the 12 March 2012.” In response to the continuing human rights violations, the Council reinforced the EU’s restrictive measures against the Syrian regime. For details, see press release 5537/12.
Source : “Results of the Council of the EU dealing with Iran and Syria”, Voltaire Network, 23 January 2012, www.voltairenet.org/a172497