EU agrees in principle to oil embargo that would ban member states from buying Iranian oil; EU move follows US sanctions on Iran's central bank, as Western countries call for Iran to stop work on nuclear programme; North Korea chides Japan for holding a security meeting in the wake of Kim Jong-Il's death; Australia says it will not pay $2 million ransom for Australian man taken hostage in southern Philippines; Taliban say they are responsible for deaths of 15 Pakistani soldiers; Rwandan militia kill 26 civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo; and more

Top of the Agenda: EU Agrees on Iran Oil Embargo

The European Union agreed in principle to impose an oil embargo that would ban member states from purchasing Iranian oil. The EU is the second largest consumer (DerSpiegel) of Iranian oil, with Greece, Italy, and Spain being the largest importers.

The decision comes amid an ongoing standoff between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear program (NYT). Western leaders have called for Iran to cease enriching uranium, a process considered necessary for building a nuclear bomb. But Iran insists its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.

The EU move follows fresh U.S. financial sanctions on Iran's central bank. Iran responded by threatening Western ships operating in the Strait of Hormuz, accelerating tensions in the Persian Gulf (WSJ).

Analysis

Sanctions over Iran's nuclear program have triggered threats involving the strategic Strait of Hormuz and new debate over the methods chosen to pressure Tehran, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.

This CFR Crisis Guide traces Iran's history, its evolution as an Islamic republic, and its controversial nuclear program.

CFR's Captain Bradley S. Russell (USN) and Max Boot argue in this Wall Street Journal op-ed that Iran must realize that by initiating direct hostilities in the Strait of Hormuz, it risks U.S. retaliation against their covert nuclear weapons program.

 

PACIFIC RIM

North Korea Criticizes Japan

North Korea reprimanded Japan for showing a lack of respect (WSJ) by holding a security meeting in the wake of former leader Kim Jong-il's death last month, while calling Tokyo the "laughing stock of the world" for its many changes in government.

Following the death of leader Kim Jong-il, the transition of power in North Korea could see Pyongyang engaging in further provocative activities, says CFR's Paul Stares in this video.

AUSTRALIA: The government said it would not pay a ransom to suspected Muslim separatists (SMH) in the southern Philippines who took hostage Australian citizen Warren Rodwell last month. The kidnappers released a video of Rodwell asking for $2 million in exchange for his life.

 

ELSEWHERE:

Taliban claims to have killed 15 Pakistani soldiers

Rwandan militia kill 26 civilians in DRC

 

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.

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