BERLIN: The European Union is likely to impose sanctions on a German bank specializing in business in Iran for helping Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, a German official said on Friday.
Germany has so far said it has been monitoring the bank, Hamburg-based EIH, but could not act against it unless the EU agreed to impose sanctions or if it engaged in business with institutions on an EU blacklist.
Reached by telephone, the bank declined to comment.
The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on EIH last year for facilitating billions of dollars of transactions with Iranian banks blacklisted by the United States and the European Union for aiding Iran’s nuclear or missile programs.
EIH stands for Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (European-Iranian Trade Bank).
"The course has been set for sanctions," the government official said, declining to be named.
"There is a growing amount of considerable evidence of the financing of firms and institutions by EIH which are already sanctioned," the official said.
EU foreign ministers will likely agree to sanctions on May 23, the official said.
Israel and the United States had lobbied for Germany to shut down the bank, saying it supports the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by handling payments to known participants in Iran’s nuclear program.
The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Tehran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.
Iran denies the allegation and says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy needs.