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Iran sanctions: Amid signs they're working, EU aiming for more

The renewed focus on sanctions over Iran's nuclear program comes as concerns have subsided that an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities is imminent.

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This photo, taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by AP outside Iran shows Iranian police officers blocking a street as garbage cans are set on fire, in central Tehran, near Tehran's old main bazaar, on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

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Western powers are planning another turn of the sanctions screw over Iran’s nuclear program even as the deployment Wednesday of riot police in Tehran’s streets suggests that existing sanctions against Iran are having a significant impact on its economy.

Following recent US steps to fill the holes of the sanctions already in place, European Union foreign ministers will meet this month with the goal of implementing another round of measures aimed at pressuring the regime.

“Our hope is to announce a new set of sanctions at the meeting on Oct. 15,” says a senior European official in Washington. “We know the existing [EU] sanctions are really hurting,” the official says, adding that the focus now is to “bring the Iranian economy to its knees – in a way that really hurts the regime more than the Iranian people.”

The renewed focus on sanctions to constrain Iran to change course in its nuclear program comes as concerns have subsided that an Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities is imminent.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the international community through his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week that Israel has a “red line” for Iran’s uranium enrichment program that will trigger action. But he also suggested that Israel does not see Iran crossing that line until at least next spring or summer.

US and EU officials say that since his speech, Mr. Netanyahu has indicated in discussions that he is prepared to see what results redoubled sanctions and world powers’ negotiations with Tehran can yield. Netanyahu is expected to visit European capitals soon to press for toughened sanctions, but it seems unlikely his trip would take place before the EU foreign ministers' meeting.

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