“Our oil exports will certainly be cut to some European countries…. We will decide about other European countries later,” Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was quoted as saying in a press conference on Saturday.
The minister did not name the countries which will be affected by Iran’s decision but stressed that the measure is in retaliation for the EU decision to stop importing Iranian crude as of July 1.
Qasemi added that Europe is not a big market for Iran’s oil and that the decision will not harm the country’s economy as Iran will face no problem for finding alternative markets for its oil.
On Saturday, January 28, deputy chairman of Iran Majlis Energy Committee Nasser Soudani said the committee had finalized a draft bill to stop the country’s oil exports to EU member states.
Soudani added that based on the double-urgency bill, the Islamic Republic would halt all oil exports to European countries as long as they continue to ban oil imports from Iran.
In their January 23 meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers imposed new sanctions on Iran which include a ban on purchasing oil from the country, a freeze on the assets of Iran’s Central Bank within the EU, and a ban on the sale of grains, diamonds, gold and other precious metals to Iran.
The sanctions will become fully effective on July 1, 2012, to give EU member states enough time to adjust to new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies.
EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, claimed that the new sanctions aim to bring Iran back to negotiations with P5+1 — US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany — over the country’s peaceful nuclear program.
The United States, israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to impose four rounds of sanctions and a series of unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has a right to use nuclear technology for peaceful use.