Iran expects U-turn on oil embargo


TEHRAN – Iranian politicians have said they expect the European Union to backtrack on its oil embargo and repeated a threat to close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane if the West succeeds in preventing Tehran from exporting crude.

“The West’s ineffective sanctions against the Islamic state are not a threat to us. They are opportunities and have already brought lots of benefits to the country,” intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi told the official IRNA news agency yesterday.

Speaking a day after the EU imposed a ban on Iranian oil – to take full effect within six months – in a move to press Tehran into curbing its contested nuclear programme and engage in negotiations with six world powers, the tone in the Islamic Republic was defiant, even sceptical.

“The global economic situation is not one in which a country can be destroyed by imposing sanctions,” Mr Moslehi said, repeating Iran’s stance that with the EU in economic and monetary crisis, it needs Iran’s oil more than Iran needs its business.

A spokesman for the oil ministry said Iran had had plenty of time to prepare for the sanctions and would find alternative customers for the 18 per cent of its exports that up to now have gone to the 27-nation European bloc.

“The first phase of this [sanctions action] is propaganda, only then it will enter the implementation phase. That is why they put in this six months period, to study the market,” Iran’s oil ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad Rahbar said, predicting the embargo could be rescinded before it takes force completely.

“This market will harm them because oil is getting more expensive and when oil gets more expensive it will harm the people of Europe,” he reportedly said on state TV. The embargo will not kick in in full until July 1st as the bloc’s foreign ministers were anxious about ailing economies such as Greece and Italy. – (Reuters)