01/23/2012, 00.00
Send to a friend

As oil prices drop and Israel vets attack option, EU set to impose sanctions on Iran

European Union foreign ministers decide to implement embargo on Iranian oil and block financial transactions. Israel could attack Iran with only 12 hours advance warning, making the operation virtually impossible to stop. Crude prices drop 1 per cent as Saudi Arabia is set to boost production.
Brussels (AsiaNews/Agencies) – European foreign ministers met today to decide on new sanctions that would target Iranian oil exports. Curiously, crude oil prices dropped as markets dismiss sanctions threat, expecting instead the economic crisis to slow demand.

With the decision to ban Iranian oil imports already taken, EU foreign ministers now have to decide when to implement it. Member states must be given enough time to find alternative sources than Iran. The ban applies to new contracts; old ones will be honoured until 1 July.

About 20 per cent of Iran’s oil exports go to Europe; 60 per cent is sold in Asia. China and Japan are reticent to impose the embargo despite US and EU pressure.

Western nations want to strengthen sanctions. They accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear programme, a charge Tehran has always rejected.

In addition to the oil embargo, the United States has imposed restrictions on Iranian banks and wants the European Union to do the same. Should this happen, Iran’s economic relations with much of the international community would be frozen.

In recent weeks, an Iranian general threatened to close down the Strait of Hormuz in case of further sanctions. However, it is unclear whether everyone in Iran’s leadership agrees with the threatening posture. In fact, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Saturday said that negotiations, not sanctions, can resolve the standoff over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as a British Royal Navy frigate and a French warship, have passed through the Straits of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf without incident

Tensions in the area remain high as rumours of possible attacks against Iran continue. The Times of London reported yesterday that Israel would give Washington just 12 hours' notice if it decides to launch a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, which would effectively prevent the US from blocking the raid.

The issue was apparently discussed during a meeting between Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is visiting Israel.

“Mr Netanyahu suspects that Mr Obama, fearful of soaring energy prices, will go to any lengths to stop an attack going ahead before the US presidential election in November,” the paper wrote.

Still, economic factors are driving oil prices down. Today in New York, March futures lost 1 per cent after losing 2.2 per cent last Friday. Analysts believe that demand appears to be softening because of the economic crisis.

In any event, Saudi Arabia, a traditional enemy of Iran, has already said that it would boost production to counter any crisis in case Iranian oil production is blocked.
Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Iran nuclear deal: As Rouhani talks to Macron, the US and Europe drift further apart
30/04/2018 17:59
EU says no to new sanctions against Tehran, wants to save nuclear deal
19/04/2018 18:02
Iran files suit at international court against US over sanctions
18/07/2018 08:53
Iran to let AIEA inspectors visit two suspected sites
Trump cancels nuclear agreement and orders 'the highest level' of sanctions


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”