Belgium Britain's drive for tighter EU sanctions against Iran's oil and gas sector slowed Thursday as European diplomats - facing consumer protests over soaring fuel prices - said any new measures in that area were unlikely for months.
The European Union hesitancy comes despite growing sentiment among many of the bloc's individual nations that tougher steps are needed to keep Iran from turning its nuclear activities into weapons.
Still, the diplomatic assessment represents a setback to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who assured President Bush this week that the EU would soon start a "new phase of sanctions on oil and gas."
The problem the Europeans face is what steps to take and when. Hitting Iran's oil and gas sector could further push up energy prices, which have prompted disruptive protests around Europe by fishermen, truckers and farmers in recent weeks.