As the member nations of the European Union join together in an effort to deter Iran’s nuclear program one member state stands against them.  The European Union governments’ sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program consisted of “new measures against Tehran’s banking sector, industry and shipping. The new sanctions mark one of the toughest pushes against Iran by Europe to date, and come amid mounting concerns over the Islamic Republic’s military intentions and the failure of diplomacy to solve the atom stand-off this year.”  The EU has emphasized diplomacy to soothe Iran into discontinuing their nuclear program but there has been a concerning lack of cooperation on Iran’s behalf. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “In the last couple of months Iran has not budged on any of the key issues and we must therefore increase the pressure through sanctions”.  Why then does Sweden oppose the majority?

According to one source, three main players in the EU, Germany, France, and Great Britain, are upset with Sweden.  One German diplomat stated that Sweden’s actions are “embarrassing, absurd and illogical foot-dragging.”  Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt claims that their actions are to champion diplomacy over sanctions.  Are the Swedes concerned that the economic sanctions would hurt the people of Iran or the termination of lucrative contracts consisting between the two nations?  This speculation that Sweden’s economic interest is not without merit but is again only speculation.  It is not certain why Sweden is against the sanctions.  Does Sweden have the legal ability under the EU law to continue their economic ventures with Iran if the sanctions pass?

Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union defines the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which govern sanctions.  The EU is allowed to sanction Iran according to Article 11 “to preserve peace and strengthen international security…, and to promote international cooperation.”  Sweden, as a member state, has to comply with the sanctions enacted by the EU due to the loyalty clause under Article 11(2).  This states that Sweden has to “support the CFSP actively and unreservedly; refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or is likely to impair its effectiveness in international relations; work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity.”

The Swedes are unhappy about the sanctions that the EU might enact upon Iran, but if they are enacted they’ll have to abide by them.

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