As was widely expected, the EU Council yesterday adopted wide-ranging new sanctions on Iran, which are intended to supplement the existing sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme. In addition to the embargo on petroleum imports, new sanctions included an embargo on petrochemical imports and restrictions on financing and equipment sales for the petrochemical industry in Iran. The assets of the Iranian central bank in the EU were frozen and trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Iranian public bodies and the central bank were prohibited. The list of prohibited dual use exports was extended as was the list of sanctioned individuals and entities. The oil import ban will allow existing import contracts to run until 1 July, which probably reflects that point at which the real impact will be felt, we expect. However, the extent of the impact remains moot, pending Iran’s ability to find alternative markets for exports displaced from Europe. A review of the oil sanctions will take place before 1 May, which might indicate that the EU has left itself wiggle room in case some member states are suffering particular difficulty locating alternative sources of oil, we believe. It has been reported widely that Greece gets particularly beneficial terms for its imports from Iran, given its parlous credit rating. According to Eurostat data, the EU imported 614mmbd of petroleum products in the first nine months of 2011, mainly into Italy, Spain and Greece. In total, the EU accounted for around a quarter of Iran’s total petroleum exports with the bulk of the rest going to Asia, particularly to China.