British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on the European Union (EU) to beef up sanctions against Iran over its nuclear energy program.
"It is necessary to increase pressure on Iran, to intensify sanctions, to add further to EU sanctions that are already enforced," Reuters quoted Hague as saying before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus on Friday.
Hague said sanctions should target Iran’s energy and trade sectors to force Tehran to end its nuclear energy program.
At the beginning of 2012, the US and the EU approved new sanctions against Iran's oil and financial sectors. The embargoes aim to prevent other countries from purchasing the Iranian oil or transacting with the Central Bank of Iran.
Washington and the EU have declared that the bans are meant to force Iran to abandon its nuclear energy program, which they claim to include a military component.
Iran has vehemently refuted the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to use the nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.
The US-led Western unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic have mainly affected ordinary civilians, hitting vulnerable medical patients, and preventing the country from updating its civilian aviation industry.