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Companies urged not to invest in Iran

Italy uses moral suasion on firms with nuclear technology

11 February, 17:52
Companies urged not to invest in Iran

(ANSA) - Rome, February 11 - The government has been pressing Italian companies with nuclear technologies to end or avoid investments in Iran, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"Firm and decisive moral suasion not to have dealings with Iran has been exerted by the government on those companies which have sensitive nuclear technologies," Maurizio Massari said.

The spokesman added that there has been a "significant drop" in trade between Italy and Iran and that the Italian agency which insures foreign investments, SACE, put a freeze on coverage in Iran some time ago. Last Thursday, Italy's national fuels group ENI confirmed that no new contracts would be signed with Iran but existing commitments would be respected.

Earlier that week Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Italy has been scaling back its trade ties with Iran, which he observed had been halved from 2001 to 2008 and in the first six months of 2009 decreased a further 30%.

And although the value of trade between the two countries in 2008 rose to over six billion euros, ''this was still less than half of the value of Iran's trade with Germany,'' Frattini said.

Germany is Iran's biggest European trading partner thanks to its exports there, while Italy is second and is Europe's biggest importer from Iran, mostly oil.

Italy is seeking to reduce its economic ties with Iran due to Tehran's nuclear ambitions, in line with international sanctions, and its anti-Israel policy.

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