EU to draw up proposals on expanding sanctions against Iran following attack on Israel

Iranian strike in retaliation for Israel’s killing of officials in Damascus ‘unprecedented’ and major escalation in region, says Josep Borrell

The European Union is to draw up proposals to expand sanctions on Iran targeting its drone and missile capabilities, in response to its weekend attack on Israel.

EU foreign affairs ministers held a virtual meeting on Tuesday where there was a push to strengthen existing sanctions against Iran. Speaking after the meeting, Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said further sanctions on the table included measures to try to stem any supply of drones from Iran to its proxies in the Middle East.

Existing sanctions covering Iran’s supply of drones to Russia for military use could also be expanded to cover the supply of a wider range of missiles, he said. The meeting also heard calls from some ministers to introduce sanctions on members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, he said.

US president Joe Biden and other western leaders have condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, while many have also called for all sides to show restraint to avoid an escalation in the conflict. The Israel Defense Forces said 99 per cent of the more than 300 attempted strikes were neutralised by Israel’s comprehensive air defence system, with the assistance of the US and other partners.


The attack by Iran was retaliation for the Israeli bombing of an Iranian diplomatic facility in Damascus, Syria, at the start of this month, which killed a number of military officials. The latest development has heightened concerns about Israel’s war in Gaza spreading beyond the embattled strip, where the IDF has been targeting Hamas militants, into a wider regional conflict.

The emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers was called in response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks on Israel over the weekend. The direct attack on Israel from Iran was “unprecedented” and a major escalation in the region, Mr Borrell said.

“We are in front of a chess board game. One attacks one, the other responds, then the other responds and if in every step of this game the level of the response is increasing, at the end of the steps we will be in a full war,” he said.

Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg said he had called for extending EU sanctions against Iran at the meeting. “All actors in the region have to keep a cool head, I urge them to contribute to de-escalation,” he said in a post on social media.

The first day of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday is set to include a discussion on Iran and Israel. Leaders are due to discuss the ongoing situation in Gaza, as well as seek to agree to a text calling for restraint from both Iran and Israel.

One EU official said the summit meeting would also probably discuss sanctions on Iran. However, given talks on further sanctions were at an early stage it was likely no concrete decision would be taken at the summit, the source said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times