Recent Sanctions Developments

Iran has said that it has begun loading fuel into the core of the Bushehr nuclear plant. According to the press the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, will enter into talks with Iran, on 5 December, over its nuclear programme. The exact location of the talks has yet to be decided but Austria or Switzerland has been mentioned as potential venues.

The Guardian reports that Britain is to further restrict exports to Iran. Until this month the government had allowed British companies to export items such as nickel alloy pipes, vacuum pumps, radiation detectors, spectrometers, heat furnaces and specialised gaskets. The Department for Business Innovation & Skills sent a notice to British exporters which said: "All licences will be refused except in cases where there is manifestly no risk."

In the world of oil Schlumberger has promised the US government it will pull out of Iran when its existing work contracts expire in 2013, US officials see this as a significant win in the campaign to pressure Tehran over its nuclear programme. According to the Boston Globe the company's vice president of communications Rod Nelson has said that their decision means that if nothing changes, Schlumberger will ultimately end operations in Iran. Schlumberger have avoided the US sanctions (despite having their headquarters in Houston) as they are registered in Curacao, but the introduction of the EU's sanctions has forced a reassessment. In Kuwait the Khaleej Times reported that Kuwait has started to apply the UN resolution on Iran. According to a circular issued by the Kuwait central bank it has asked Gulf emirate banks, investment companies and money exchange firms to start implementing UN sanctions against neighbouring Iran. The instructions called for the freezing of assets and financial resources related to "Iran's sensitive nuclear programmes or activities".

On 11 November US President Barack Obama extended for another year a freeze on Iranian assets in the United States first imposed 31 years ago by President Jimmy Carter. In a notice published by the White House President Obama said that ties between the US and Iran countries had yet to be normalised.

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