Reuters: A ban on Iranian oil imports to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear activity would not be a problem for the European Union as supplies could always been bought elsewhere, the EU’s energy commissioner said.
BRUSSELS Nov 23 (Reuters) – A ban on Iranian oil imports to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear activity would not be a problem for the European Union as supplies could always been bought elsewhere, the EU’s energy commissioner said.
EU countries have been discussing a further extension of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme and France has been pushing for this to include a ban on imports of Iranian oil.
Asked if such an embargo would hurt EU energy security, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told Reuters: “This is not a problem. It can be substituted by OPEC and others.”
The United States stopped buying Iranian crude in the 1990s, but there is less appetite elsewhere in the West for the French proposal of a wider import ban, with British sources saying that London’s latest sanctions were not meant to target oil.
The European Union agreed in principle on Tuesday to extend its sanctions on Iran to some 200 more Iranian people, companies and organisations, adding to measures imposed by the United States, Britain and Canada due to suspicions that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran has dismissed the latest sanctions, saying such steps would only intensify Iranian popular support for a nuclear programme it insists is solely for peaceful purposes.
On Tuesday the head of the National Iranian Oil Company said he had no fear of losing EU markets and that Iranian exports to the European Union were relative small, with other countries were willing to buy. (Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Barbara Lewis, writing by David Brunnstrom; editing by Rex Merrifield)