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EU High Court OKs|Iranian Oil Asset Freeze

(CN) - EU lawmakers properly froze the National Iranian Oil Company's funds amid concerns the company helped Iran fund its nuclear ambitions, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday.

The European Council froze the assets of a number of state-owned entities in Iran's gas and oil sector in 2012, on grounds that the entire sector helped Iran finance its bid to develop a nuclear program.

While Iran has always maintained its nuclear ambitions were for peaceful purposes, much of the world - including the EU and the United States - had its doubts and imposed harsh economic sanctions and asset freezes.

The National Iranian Oil Company unsuccessfully challenged the asset freeze in the European General Court. Its appeal to Europe's highest court had the same result on Tuesday.

Specifically, the Luxembourg-based court found that while it's usually up to the European Commission to carry out the council's orders, the gravity of asset freezes on people and businesses and the need to take quick action amid national security concerns justified the council's decision to handle the asset freeze itself.

Furthermore, the EU high court ruled that the lower court properly interpreted changes in the council's blacklisting criteria - namely that even entities with no direct link to Iran's nuclear-proliferation ambitions like the oil company could be blacklisted for providing financial or material support to the Iranian government.

The high court's decision does little more than close the file on the case, since the EU and international community lifted most of the economic sanctions on Iran in January as part of the Iran nuclear deal signed in late 2015.

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