Iran’s Oil Ministry announces it has cut oil exports to British and French firms in line with the decision to end crude exports to six European states.
The move comes as Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi had earlier hinted at the possibility of Iran’s halting oil exports to certain European countries.
Iranian Oil Ministry Spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar said Sunday that Iran has no problem in exporting and selling crude oil to its customers.
“We have our own oil customers and replacements for these [British and French] companies have already been chosen and we will sell the crude oil to new customers instead of the British and French companies,” Nikzad-Rahbar pointed out.
European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban oil imports from Iran on January 23 and to freeze the assets of the Iranian Central Bank across the EU in a bid to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
The sanctions will become fully effective on July 1, 2012, to give EU member states enough time to adjust to the new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies.
Despite the widely publicized claims by the US, Israel and some of their European allies that Iran’s nuclear program may include a military aspect, Tehran insists its nuclear work is civilian in nature.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence indicating that Tehran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted towards nuclear weapons production.