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Thursday 27th
posted by Morning Star in World

EU says new US restrictions could jeopardise energy security

BRUSSELS, Moscow and Tehran all slammed the US Congress yesterday over a draconian sanctions Bill it passed on Tuesday.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the Bill could have “unintended unilateral effects” on Europe’s energy security.

EU members Germany and Austria have voiced concern that sanctions will affect firms working on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, leaving them dependent on US liquid petroleum gas imports.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schafer said yesterday that it was “unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interests of US industry policies.”

The Bill, originally targeting Iranian ballistic missile development but amended to include Russia and North Korea, passed on Tuesday by an overwhelming 419-3 vote.

Amid rhetoric reminiscent of the cold war, Congress sought to punish Russia over unproven claims that it interfered in last year’s election in favour of President Donald Trump.

House foreign affairs committee chairman Ed Royce said: “It is well past time that we forcefully respond.”

Mr Trump’s “rhetoric toward the Russians has been far too accommodating and conciliatory,” said fellow Republican Charlie Dent.

“Russian behavior has been atrocious,” he said. “They deserve these enhanced sanctions. Relations with Russia will improve when Russian behaviour changes and they start to fall back into the family of nations.”

The Bill includes an unprecedented clause preventing the president from lifting the sanctions without a Congressional review.

Democrat Steny Hoyer said: “There’ll be no side deals or turning a blind eye to [Russia’s] actions.”

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was “reviewing” the legislation.

“What is happening defies common sense,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said yesterday. “The authors and sponsors of this Bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying any potential for normalising relations with Russia.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting yesterday that Tehran would “take any action that is necessary for the country’s expedience and interests.”

Iran’s communist Tudeh Party said the new sanctions were part of US efforts to “change the balance of forces in the Middle East — by isolating Iran — in a fashion favourable to the House of Saud and its reactionary allies.”

Tudeh international secretary Navid Shomali said: “The main impact of this will be the strengthening of the Saudi hand in influencing developments on the ground in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where their puppet jihadist terrorist forces continue to employ inhuman military tactics and commit gross violations against already weary civilian populations.”