U.S., Allies Step Up Iran Embargo Talks
Wall Street Journal / JAY SOLOMON

The Obama administration, its European allies and key Arab states are intensifying discussions on how to maintain stability in the global energy markets in a possible precursor to a formal embargo on Iran's oil exports and its central bank.

Such an embargo would constitute the most direct economic confrontation yet between Iran and the West and would amplify tensions as Iran repeatedly threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes about one-fifth of the world's oil supply.

U.S. and European officials indicated in interviews they are taking steps that could lay the groundwork for such financial penalties as part of the effort to counter Iran's nuclear program.

In particular, the officials said they are seeking assurances from major oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, to increase exports to the European Union and Asian nations if tighter sanctions on Tehran's energy exports and central bank are enforced in the coming months.

Representatives from 11 countries involved in the financial war against Tehran will meet on Tuesday in Rome as part of a group that has been informally dubbed the "coalition of like-minded countries."

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