Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Beijing has settled its
contract dispute with Tehran and announced that it would boost imports by 34
per cent or 524,000 barrels a day. Imports had dropped earlier this year
because of late payments to Iran.
The deal comes a few days before new sanctions imposed
by the United States and the European Union on Iran come into effect on 1 July,
following the failure of the 5+1 talks with Tehran in Moscow last Tuesday. The 5+1
group includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United
States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France), plus Germany. More talks are
scheduled for 3 July in Istanbul (Turkey).
"China's importing of Iranian oil is based on its own
economic development needs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
China has always opposed economic sanctions against
Iran. "It is even less acceptable for such unilateral sanctions to be imposed
on a third country," Hong explained.
Yesterday, Japan adopted a law that enables the
government to shoulder protection coverage of up to US$ 7.6 billion for each
tanker transporting Iranian crude to Japan in case of accidents.
In 2004, Tokyo and Tehran had signed a basic agreement on a major oil
development project in Azadegan, one of the world's largest oil fields in the
world with estimated reserves of 26
For months, the US has been pressuring China, Iran's
top oil buyer, and other Asian nations to cut imports of Iranian crude in order
to force Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment programme and abandon plans to
develop nuclear weapons.
On 12 June, Washington did apply a waiver for seven
countries, including India, from financial sanctions in return for
significantly reducing purchases of Iranian oil.
Yesterday, Iran's Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi
accused the United States and Israel of a cyber attack against its facilities following
the Moscow meeting of 18-19 June on Iran's nuclear programme, but Iranian computer
experts were apparently able to stop it.