Washington, Dec. 1 – EU foreign ministers placed fresh sanctions on 37 Iranians and 143 entities Thursday, hitting them with travel bans and asset freezes after a mob assaulted the British embassy in Tehran.
While the sanctions were conceived before the assault, the attack added new urgency to new Western sanctions on Iran.
The EU ministers also added new sanctions to Syria due to its continuing brutal crackdown on internal opposition.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that all steps that pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program and prevent the need for military action against the Islamic republic are positive.
Also on Thursday, German media outlets reported that prosecutors are looking into evidence that Iran was planning attacks on U.S. forces based in the country. A top law official said Iranian elements may possibly be planning to attack U.S. personnel and facilities in the event of an American attack on the Islamic Republic.
"We have to concentrate on the different ways, both diplomatic and other, in order to bring about that Iran will not be nuclear," the former army chief of staff said in an Israel Radio interview.
Barak reiterated that while Israel is strong and did not seek war, it would not allow itself to be "pushed into a corner from which it has to act."
"The state of Israel is far from being paralyzed by fears...We have to operate with composure, quietly," he said.
After the United Kingdom severed diplomatic ties in the wake of an Iranian mob invading the British Embassy in Tehran, Barak commented that it is better if sanctions and diplomacy would move Iranian leaders to a decision to abandon their military nuclear program.
Speaking on arrival in Brussels where European foreign ministers were set to discuss the subject, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for tightening of the sanctions against Iran. After the embassy attack, Germany, France and the Netherlands also withdrew their ambassadors in support of the U.K.
"Today we will discuss more measures against Iran. I hope we will agree an intensification of economic sanctions to increase the isolation of the regime," Hague told reporters.
“Our bigger, long term concern is of course the Iranian nuclear programme, the danger that poses to the peace of the Middle East and the wider world, the threat of nuclear proliferation spreading to other countries in the region, and it's for that reason that we will agree, I hope, today to intensify European Union sanctions on Iran," Hague said in a BBC radio interview earlier in the day.
Yet sources told Al-Arabiya News Thursday that the attack on the British embassy had been planned by Iranian authorities, and not spontaneous as it orginially appeared. The report said the Basij paramilitary forced had a large hand in the assault.