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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Pushes Ahead On Iran Embargo


AMMAN, Jordan -- U.S. envoy Madeleine Albright vowed Wednesday that Washington would press on with plans to isolate Iran through trade sanctions despite criticism from its allies.

"We understood and continue to understand the difficulties some of our allies might have with this subject, but the truth is unless we take the leadership position it is hard for others to follow," said Albright, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

U.S. President Bill Clinton announced Sunday that he will ban all U.S. trade and investment with Iran because of what he said was its support for international "terrorism."

Israel praised the move and Japan postponed a $540 million loan to Iran. Japanese loans are the only major source of foreign credit for Iran, and U.S. officials had pressured Japan for months to suspend the commitment. But other countries said the U.S. policy was wrong.

French Foreign Minister Alain Jupp? said his government has no intention of joining the embargo. Iran is one of France's leading sources of oil, and France exports about $800 million a year in goods to Iran.

Germany argued diplomacy would be more effective in discouraging Iran from building atomic weapons, but said it would not rule out joining the ban.

The European Union, which includes Germany and France among its 15 members, also decided against the embargo for now in favor of maintaining a "critical political dialogue'' with Iran.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said London maintained a policy of "critical dialogue" with Iran, adding that "as an instrument of policy, trade embargoes are not favored [by Britain]."

However, he stressed there was no rift between London and Washington. "We are in constant touch [with the U.S. administration] and we are aware of their concerns," he said.

Albright, on a Middle East tour that includes talks with the leaders of Egypt, Israel and Jordan, told a news conference: "We expected that there would be questions and we are determined to go forward with our plans, and at the same time work to convince our allies that this is an appropriate way to deal with a regime that has supported global terrorism."

She said Iran was a "rogue state" determined to acquire nuclear weapons and trying to undermine the U.S.-initiated negotiations for Middle East peace. "We are concerned about the fact that within a decade or so we believe it would be possible for Iran to have some kind of nuclear potential," she said.

"Our approach, to embargo, is an important step to making sure that this doesn't happen," she told journalists invited to the U.S. Embassy. "It is a first step and we are going to be watching this very carefully."

Washington has had stormy relations with Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979 but Clinton's proposed embargo was also seen by some in the United States as a move to preempt more sweeping measures proposed by members of Congress. ()