January 24, 2012

Australia Joins EU in Banning Iranian Oil

Australia says it will follow the European Union in banning oil imports from Iran.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Tuesday Australia will take the same action as the EU, which on Monday agreed to new sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of the country's central bank.
The sanctions are part of a Western campaign to pressure Iran to suspend controversial parts of its nuclear program.

Iran dismissed the EU actions, calling the sanctions “illogical and unfair.”
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Monday the world's long-term need for energy means it is “not possible to impose sanctions on Iran,” with its huge resources of oil and gas.
The EU ban does not take effect until July 1, giving major buyers such as Greece, Spain and Italy time to find alternatives sources of oil. The EU has been the second-largest market for Iranian oil after China.
Iran is heavily reliant on revenue from oil exports.

Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran has threatened to respond to new sanctions by closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital pathway for global oil supplies.
Britain and the United States have warned Iran against closing the waterway located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, along with British and French warships, entered the Gulf without incident Sunday.
The U.S. imposed sanctions Monday on Iran's third-largest bank, making it harder for Tehran to access the world's financial system. The U.S. Treasury Department said Iran's Bank Tejarat is accused of aiding the country's nuclear weapons program, including moving tens of millions of dollars to help a state-run agency acquire uranium.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the EU embargo Monday, saying unilateral sanctions will not help revive negotiations between Iran and six world powers on the Iranian nuclear program. Those talks have been on hold for a year, but Lavrov said he is hopeful they will resume soon.
Russia and China supported several rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran, but they oppose further measures, saying all parties should focus on negotiations. Moscow and Beijing both have close economic ties to Tehran.

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