Because of concern for scuttling a major telecommunications deal with Iran, Sweden will oppose any additional sanctions by the European Union against the country, according to a report in Haaretz.
An unnamed Israeli official said that due to a deal being brokered between Tehran and Sweden’s Ericsson telecom provider, Sweden will not support a toughening stance against the country which appears to be pursuing a nuclear weapon which it has insinuated it may use against Israel or the United States. Ericsson also conducts business with China, a country which has raised international concerns over human rights abuses.
In October 2011, Bloomberg news reported that Ericsson enabled tracking of cell phone users to the Irancell phone provider, technology which was used by the Iranian government to track opposition leaders.
According to Haaretz, Sweden’s official position is that the only ones impacted by sanctions are Iranian civilians, and that the measures would not influence government policy.
Greece, Malta, and Cyprus have also opposed increased sanctions against Iran.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the UK, France, Italy, and Germany have all proposed a full trade embargo on Iran.
Sanctions to be discussed by EU members in Luxembourg on Monday include the banning of financial transactions and export of metals and graphite, as well as a total halt to the provision of ship building, oil storage technologies by European firms, and a boycott of Iranian natural gas.
Humanitarian and medical supplies, and food, would not be affected by sanctions.
The Iranian currency, the rial, has plummeted by two-thirds of its value against the dollar in the last several weeks. Iran has announced its intention to implement austerity measures and reduce imports of non-essential goods.
The effective shutdown of the Iranian nuclear program due to sanctions has been a major goal of the United States. Failure to shut down the program will likely lead to an Israeli military action against Iranian nuclear sites.