The Blunt Oil Embargo and Other International Sanctions Measures of European Union, United Nations, and other United States’ Puppy Dog Countries to Iran’s National Interests
By Sando Sasako
Advanced Advocacy Plus
Jakarta, 30 April 2012, 09.19
The greedy US military companies and US oil companies as well have been the puppet masters of the foreign policies of the US government, including Obama’s administration.
On Iran’s rejections to deal with any US companies, this means no money and honey can be lurked and generated from Iranian soil to be stacked within the vaults of US banks’.
This means no Jews can taste the Iranian sweet oily business that worth trillions of US dollars, but India, China, and mother Russia, the friendly and warm neighbouring companies.
What about Brasil (in the tip of South American continent ) and SouthAfrica (in the tip of African continent) that ally in BRICS countries?
To be continued to answer that question.
Are they really the United States’ puppy dog countries or just Brutus?
Conflicting interests are the prime cause for the collapse of blunt international sanctions against Iran. Iran’s lucrative oil business is too important to be taken aside.
Let’s hear the cries of hungry wolves of US oil companies starving to the death deals with Iran’s companies.
Read other highly related articles:
- Calculating the magnitude of world’s mobile war machines of present day, aka United States’ Hostile War Intentions, a full-fledged photo collection of world’s aircraft carriers, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/calculating-the-magnitude-of-worlds-mobile-war-machines-of-present-day/
- The Blunt Oil Embargo and Other International Sanctions Measures of European Union, United Nations, and other United States’ Puppy Dog Countries to Iran’s National Interests, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/the-blunt-international-sanctions-measures-to-irans-national-interests/
- The Pressing Measures of European Union against Iranian Nuclear Program, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/the-pressing-measures-of-european-union-against-iranian-nuclear-program/
- The Jews have been up and against Iran, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/the-jews-have-been-up-and-against-iran/
- An Act of War, A Jewish Way to Wage War: A Terror by Killing Iranian Nuclear Scientists, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/an-act-of-war-a-jewish-way-to-wage-war-a-terror-by-killing-iranian-nuclear-scientists/
- Blame it on Iran, The Silly Plot of US Government to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador to the US, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/blame-it-on-iran-the-silly-plot-of-us-government-to-assassinate-saudi-ambassador-to-the-us/
- Another Debauchery Humiliating the US Military Institutions under the aegis of US Secret Service, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/another-debauchery-humiliating-the-us-military-institutions-under-the-aegis-of-us-secret-service/
- The Russia is advancing toward Syria, guarding the main entry point for the US to infiltrate the West Asia, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/the-russia-is-advancing-toward-syria-guarding-the-main-entry-point-for-the-us-to-infiltrate-the-west-asia/
- Asia, A Soon-To-Be War Zone for the United States, http://mayachitchatting.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/asia-a-soon-to-be-war-zone-for-the-united-states/
The Iran Factor
- 20010725, No matter who’s in power, Iran’s national interests
- 201203232333, US oil sanctions failed – Iran’s VP
- 201204132240, Iran fights oil sanctions with supervessels
The Blunt International Sanctions
- 201009030435, Japan imposes new Iran sanctions over nuclear programme
- 201201231035, EU agrees Iranian oil embargo
- 201201241122, EU Ministers Adopt Iran Oil Embargo; Russia Says It Won’t Help
- 20120131, Notching up the pressure on Iran
- 201204111701, Nuclear talks on Iran: Really the last chance?
- 201204142147, Six-party talks ‘encouraging’ after 15-month break
- 201204160426, US ‘not giving anything away’ by agreeing to talks with Iran – Obama
- 201204161125, Iran could discuss ‘level of uranium enrichment’
- 201204162030, Iran ready to make nuclear concessions if sanctions lifted
The United States’ Puppy Dog Countries Factor
- 20120320, US gives exemption on Iran sanctions to 11 nations
- 201203211718, War with Iran to cause 30% oil price shock – IMF
- 201203212003, Oil prices get ‘fear premium’ spike
- 20120322, Govt welcomes U.S. decision
- 20120322, U.S. sanctions on Iran oil exempt Japan / 10 European countries also win waivers
The India Factor
- 201201300950, India won’t cut Iranian oil imports despite US, EU sanctions: Pranab Mukherjee
- 201202100604, Govt wants more exports to Iran
- 20120211, India against more sanctions on Iran
- 201202200858, Iran struggles to find new oil customers
- 201203021611, Payment issue with Iran resolved: FIEO
- 201203121346, India, Iran look at $25 billion trade by 2015
- 201203161213, US threatens sanctions against India over Iran oil
- 201203210756, U.S. exempts 11 states from Iran sanctions; China, India exposed
The Iran Factor
No matter who’s in power, Iran’s national interests
By Hamid Zangeneh, July 25, 2001, The Iranian
One thing that we all must do in the wake of the eighth presidential election in Iran is to collectively identify and discuss Iran’s national interests and carefully and methodically prioritize them. This would create a by-partisan consensus and understanding that all politics would end at the “Persian Gulf water edges” and only Iran’s interests are the driving forces behind any Iranian policy.
Iranian people and other governments would know that the differences between Khatamis, Khameneis, and Rafsanjanis of Iran would be mostly stylistic. Something similar to the U.S., Britain, Japan, etc., where governments come and go, but policies, for the most part, remain in place, which reflects the stability of the system in these countries.
For example, during the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton the candidate, excruciated George Bush (the father) for his China policy. However, after he became the president, he endorsed the same one China policy and business as usual. Similarly, George W. Bush was critical of Clinton’s Kosovo policy but after the election, they are following the same path.
National interests of any country could be listed to include political and economic sovereignty. The question is, therefore, what do they mean by political and economic security in this increasingly interdependent world?
Throughout history, the world has been divided between those who frequently, through war and subjugation, set the path for interdependence, cooperation, and progress and those who insisted on sitting aside and trying to be “independent”, for one or another reason.
If for the sake of argument, we do not become absorbed in the discussion of imperialism and colonialism and their gory implementations and consequences, and concentrate on the post-Wold War II period, we could see that Western market-economy democracies enunciated explicit policies of inclusion, cooperation, and economic as well as political interdependence (globalization) as one of their national interests.
They established institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank as well as multinational and transnational corporations to fulfill their intentions through private and public channels and relentlessly pursued these explicitly stated goals ever since.
Pursuit of these objectives has been vilified by many for a number of reasons. We have the Marxist-Leninist denunciation of these objectives as the evils of imperialism and in the last couple of decades, the Islamic Republic has replaced it with similar slogans to express a same sentiment. A relatively similar episode of radicalism that came to exist for a short period in the 60s was the failed Arab nationalism led by Naser of Egypt. They preached intolerance and Arab superiority rather than universal interdependence and cooperation as well.
Even though Islamic Republic’s analysis and means of achieving their objectives are different, they are designed and destined to achieve a similar end, i.e., isolation and slow but certain destitution relative to their Western brethren in the long run, if Iranian citizens allow them to continue on this path.
Regardless of whether or not the Islamic regime survives in its current form and constitution, there are national interests that are and must be independent of the form, shape, and ideological tendencies of the current and/or any future government. These vital issues determine the long run fate and welfare of the country. These are what we call Iran’s national interests.
If I were to prepare a list of these national interest issues, the re-establishment of U.S. -Iran relations would be on the top of my agenda because of the importance of the U.S. in many national-interest issues of Iran, such as energy, WTO membership, trade, and defense needs. A cursory look at the balance sheet shows that the two countries’ national interests would be served more by bilateral cooperation and normal relations than by disengagement.
On the American side of the ledger we need to pay more attention to the following direct and indirect effects of disengagement and sanctions:
- It undermines the essence of free-trade policies that the U.S. has always relentlessly promoted.
- Iran is a large supplier of oil and gas, vital to industrial world economies.
- Iran has a large (60+ million) sophisticated and relatively young population, which is potentially, a profitable market for the U.S. exports and, more importantly, U.S. foreign direct investment.
- Iran holds a strategic key to the oil and gas of the Caspian Sea area.
- Since they are not multilateral and “leak proof”, they will not succeed even if they are imposed by they most powerful nation on earth. They will just increase the marginal cost of doing business.
- They deny international business the ability to extend American style democracy and capitalism
- By denying dialogue and exchange with those who engage in international activities, a vital channel thorough which evolutionary changes are transmitted is blocked. Therefore, a valuable and influential channel and impetus for policy change is forsaken for the sake of immediate gratification.
On the Iranian side of the ledger, if nothing else mattered, Iran needs to enter the WTO and since its rules require “unanimous consent” for accepting new members, there is no way that Iran could enter the organization without the U.S. acquiescence, or at least her tacit approval. Besides, assuming that Iran did manage to enter the organization without U.S. consent, the U.S. does not have to allow trade between the two countries and U.S.-Iran trade would stay at its current minimal level.
And we all know too well that the U.S. market is indispensable for any credible export-led growth and development strategy, something that Iran needs if she is going to get out of her current economic rut. One cannot find any prosperous economy without a very good political or at least economic link to the U.S. today. So, from the Iranian point of view, ignoring all other potential benefits, acceptance in the WTO would worth the cost, if nothing else.
Fortunately, during the presidential election in Iran, the candidates briefly discussed the subject. The discussions were not, however, deep and all encompassing but enough to break the so-called taboo barrier. They were good for a starter and they need to be continued until they come up with a concrete set of priorities on this issue to take to the negotiating table.
Other national security issues on my list would be the relevancy and cost of Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, security of both the Persian Gulf and the Caspian sea, and defense capabilities that must be highly competitive with Turkey and Arab states in the immediate region.
Given the realities of the world, it must now be obvious to everyone in the IRI regime that there is no way that Iran could supplant Israel in the U.S. for many national interest reasons. A common misunderstanding is that the Washington’s Middle East policy is based on the Jewish and Israeli lobbies’ interests. Therefore, if one could out-organize, out-spend, and discredit them politically, we could “eliminate the competition” and Iran could establish cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S.
This interpretation which is, unfortunately, the basis of many Iranian decisions, ignores a very important dynamic. The strength of Jewish and Israeli lobbies and their presence in the U.S. are all important and indisputable only as long as they advocate and enunciate what is in the national interests of the United States, not the other way around. That is, the U.S. national interests are not shaped and molded to enhance Jewish and Israeli’s welfare and national interests. It is the national interests of the United States in the region that gives these lobbies the strength that they enjoy for the time being. If and when these national interests change, their strengths will wither on the vine as well. This is a one way street. Jews are successful only because they are beating the U.S. national interest drums.
On the economic side of the ledger, I would include Iran’s future water and energy needs (gas and oil but more importantly, renewable hydroelectric, solar, wind, and nuclear sources) on the top my priority list. Next would be membership in the WTO, and Iran’s future economic role in the world trade. All of these could be more facilitated and made easier to achieve by re-establishing relations with the U.S.
Author: Hamid Zangeneh is professor economics at Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
US oil sanctions failed – Iran’s VP
Published: 23 March, 2012, 19:56
Edited: 23 March, 2012, 23:33
The Iranian Vice President has downplayed sanctions against the Islamic Republic, saying an embargo on Tehran’s oil sector has been defeated “in practice.” The remark came a few days after the US exempted 11 countries from being sanctioned. Mohammad-Reza Mir-Tajeddini told reporters that “in a clear retreat, the US exempted 11 countries from oil sanctions against Iran. The hostile US policy of imposing sanctions on the Iranian oil sector is, undoubtedly, a failure.”
This was in response to a move by Washington, which had earlier announced that Japan and 10 member states of the European Union were going to be exempt from being penalized for importing Iranian oil. However, the Islamic Republic’s biggest buyers – China, India and South Korea – are still on the list. China alone receives about 22 per cent of Iran’s oil exports. Vice President Mir-Tajeddini reiterated Iran’s position as one of the world’s largest oil suppliers and said no sanctions could impact its economic development.
The fact that Washington decided to give some of Iran’s buyers the go-ahead to import its oil may appear to support the VP’s statements. But in reality, the EU is imposing sanctions of its own on the Islamic Republic, with an oil purchase ban being put in effect on July 1st. Japan has cut its imports by 20 per cent. So what Iran is choosing to interpret as failure may be merely a strategic move from the US.
Middle East expert Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi, however, believes that for now Iran is only benefitting from the penalties. While the US and its allies are trying to pressure Tehran, they are hurting themselves more.
“The price of oil has increased dramatically. Iran is making much more money than it was before. The sanctions have had no effect so far on Iranian oil exports. And numerous countries, especially countries independent of the Western bloc, are actually seeking greater amounts of Iranian oil,” he explained to RT.
“The Iranians are not going to have a problem with exporting oil because there is a huge shortage in the market. And many of the countries, dictatorships and regimes allied to the US, are inherently unstable. There is trouble in Central Asia, there is trouble in Nigeria, in Sudan, Saudi Arabia has a very old and dying king – the market really needs Iran.”
He added that by imposing sanctions the Western countries are only limiting their own abilities to import and export oil,with their rivals coming to replace them.
Iran fights oil sanctions with supervessels
Published: 13 April, 2012, 18:39
Edited: 13 April, 2012, 22:40
Chinese shipyards are to deliver 12 supertankers to Iran, with the final vessel ready by the end of 2013. These could help alleviate logistical difficulties caused by US and European sanctions against Iranian oil exports.
The first of the very large crude carriers (VLCCs) built for Iranian oil shipping operator NITC is expected to arrive in May, reports Reuters, citing industry executives. Seven more are to be delivered over the year, with the remaining four to be commissioned by the end of 2013. Two shipyards are building the supertankers under contracts worth $1.2 billion.
The supertankers will significantly expand NITC’s shipping capabilities, cushioning the impact of sanctions. Starting from July, the EU will prohibit European insurers and reinsurers from indemnifying tankers carrying Iranian crude oil anywhere in the world, which will discourage maritime firms from dealing with Iran.
Buyers of Iranian oil in China, India, Japan and South Korea hope their governments will step in and provide sovereign guarantees to allow Asian insurers to replace lost European coverage. Another option would be for Iran itself to provide maritime insurance for foreign shipping companies.
But the addition of 12 VLCCs capable of carrying 24 million barrels of crude to NITC’s current fleet of 39 ships with a total capacity of 61.5 million barrels of crude will at least partially dampen the expected cut. The tankers however will not allow Iran to rely solely on its own fleet to cover its entire export of 2.6 million barrels per day. Roughly 17 such ships would be needed for this, Reuters estimates.
The 12 supertankers were commissioned at Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, with each shipbuilder taking an order for six ships. NITC, the National Iranian Tanker Company, was privatized in 2000 and is now owned by three Iranian pension funds.
The US and EU are trying to cut the Islamic Republic’s oil export through a ban on the import of its crude and financial sanctions against Iran’s trade partners. Their stated goal is to force Tehran to freeze its controversial nuclear program. Europe was among the largest buyers of Iranian crude, but is now trying to replace it with fuel from other sources. Japan and South Korea are also trying to reduce imports from Iran, although unlike the EU they didn’t set a deadline for stopping all oil trade with Iran.
China and India on the other hand refused to side with the US-sponsored effort, saying only a UN Security Council resolution would make them stop buying Iranian oil. In retaliation at the looming EU ban, Iran cut oil supply to some European countries like Britain and France. This contributed to a hike in fuel prices in the region, especially among economically weaker members of the EU like Greece and Spain, which are more dependent on Iranian oil.
Tehran also offered incentives to Asian consumers to encourage them to keep their business ties intact. By helping Iran counter the EU oil embargo, China once again proved that it is an “incredible economic power” – and that the world is no longer on a “bipolar axis,” investment adviser Patrick Young told RT.
China “sees no reason not to manage to take advantage [of the situation],” Young said. “Ultimately these oil tankers that are being built for the last two years, the [Chinese] are going to manage to deliver them just before the sanctions regime comes in. That is going to be a very welcome development for the Iranian regime.”
The Blunt International Sanctions
Japan imposes new Iran sanctions over nuclear programme
3 September 2010 Last updated at 04:35 GMT
Japan has imposed new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. The measures – which go beyond than those imposed by the UN Security Council – ban transactions with some Iranian banks, and also target energy-related investments. Japan approved sanctions against Iran last month, but US officials have been urging Tokyo to adopt tougher measures.
Many states fear Iran’s nuclear programme is developing atomic weapons; Iran insists its programme is peaceful. Japan is a major importer of Iranian crude oil, but did not impose any restrictions on oil imports from Iran. “We took those steps as they are necessary to push for nuclear non-proliferation and prevent its nuclear development,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference.
“We have traditionally close relations with Iran and from that standpoint, we will patiently encourage the country towards a peaceful and diplomatic solution,” he added. The United States, the European Union, Canada and Australia have also announced additional sanctions, which have been opposed by Russia and China.
China is now Iran’s closest trading partner, with major energy interests in the country. Banks affected. Japan’s new sanctions include a freeze on the assets of scores of groups and individuals linked to the country’s nuclear programme. They ban the provision of insurance or reinsurance services to Iran and bar Japanese financial institutions from buying bonds issued by Iran’s central bank.
The new ban on financial activity with 15 designated Iranian banks that could contribute to nuclear activities could affect some Japanese banks, analysts said. Toyota Motor Corp has suspended motor vehicle exports to the country indefinitely since June. The US imposed unilateral sanctions on 1 July that go further than the fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran approved by the Security Council in June.
Major banks in Japan and Germany, oil companies in India and companies elsewhere have been scrutinising the law to determine the impact it will have on their business. The EU has now also introduced similar tough unilateral measures. China’s business ties with Iran are also a source of concern to the US because Beijing may try to fill the vacuum left behind by companies that pull out from Iran.
EU agrees Iranian oil embargo
Ian Traynor in Brussels, guardian.co.uk, Monday 23 January 2012 10.35 GMT
Foreign ministers’ deal in Brussels could lead to soaring fuel prices and Iran closing the strait of Hormuz. European Union foreign minsters meeting in Brussels have given preliminary approval to ban Iranian crude oil imports. The long-running standoff between Iran and the west over Tehran’s nuclear programme has shifted into a more unpredictable phase after Europe decided to impose an oil embargo on the Islamic republic.
The decision by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels raised the stakes dramatically in the war of wits between Iran and the west. The EU decided no further oil contracts could be struck between the member states and Iran while existing oil delivery deals would be allowed to run until July.
Several countries shared reservations about the move, EU diplomats said. Greece was the trickiest problem since it imports a lot of Iranian oil on very favourable conditions. Given the financial collapse in Greece, it was in a difficult position and sought compensating measures from the rest of the EU. The impact of the embargo on countries such as Greece is to be reviewed in May.
Iran is Opec’s second biggest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, and about 20% of its oil exports go to Europe. It has threatened to close the strait of Hormuz waterway if the oil embargo goes ahead, a move that would choke off global oil supplies and send international tensions soaring.
The oil embargo represents a leap in the sanctions regime against Iran, following four earlier rounds of escalating penalties. Senior EU officials also concede that the move could be risky and send oil prices rocketing at a time of extreme economic difficulty in the west. “We need to ensure this does not destabilise the entire global oil market,” said a senior EU official.
Another EU diplomat said: “We need to see that EU countries have reliable energy supplies. But we don’t want to allow Iran time to find alternative customers.” The Americans and the Europeans are leaning on countries such as South Korea and Japan to curb their imports of Iranian oil. The impact of the embargo may hinge on how China, a large importer, responds.
Brussels stressed that the new punitive measures were aimed at forcing Iran back to the negotiating table over its suspected nuclear projects. Talks between Tehran and the EU collapsed last year in Turkey. EU officials say the Iranians have been sending signals about resuming talks in recent weeks, but that no one takes them seriously.
“Iran has the opportunity to come forward not just to talk, but to have some concrete issues to talk about. It is very important that it is not just about words. A meeting is not an excuse, a meeting is an opportunity and I hope that they will seize it,” said Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
While all 27 EU states signed up for the sanctions, the new regime was agreed by EU ambassadors only on Monday morning, before the foreign ministers’ meeting, indicating the difficulties in striking a deal. Two meetings of the ambassadors last week failed to break a deadlock.
In addition to the oil embargo, the EU also decided to freeze the assets of the Iranian central bank, arguing that the aim was to choke off funding for the nuclear programme. “The Iranian programmes are proceeding apace and represent a strategic threat,” said the diplomat. “The aim is to have a big impact on the Iranian financial system, targeting the economic lifeline of the regime.”
EU Ministers Adopt Iran Oil Embargo; Russia Says It Won’t Help
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 24.01.2012 11:22
Swedish, French, and Croatian Foreign Ministers Carl Bildt, Alain Juppe, and Vesna Pusic (left to right) at the European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on January 23. European Union foreign ministers have agreed to ban the import of Iranian oil as part of sanctions designed to pressure Iran to end its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The measures approved in Brussels include an immediate ban on the signing of new supply contracts for Iranian crude oil and petroleum products, with existing contracts being phased out by July 1. Russia said it viewed the move as counterproductive and called for renewed talks between Iran and six global powers.
In a joint statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the EU’s decision “another strong step in the international effort to dramatically increase the pressure” on Tehran. The EU currently buys around one-fifth of Iran’s oil exports — Iran’s most valuable asset. Negotiations are currently ongoing with several countries, including Saudi Arabia, to replace the Iranian imports.
Reports said additional restrictions on Iran’s central bank also had been agreed. The ministers also agreed to ban trade in gold, precious metals, and diamonds with the regime and froze assets of three more people and eight entities, mostly in the transport sector. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the measures were part of “an unprecedented set of sanctions.”
“I think this shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue and of the international community,” Hague said. “It is absolutely right to do this in view of Iran’s continued breach of UN Security Council resolutions and its refusal to come to meaningful negotiations on the nuclear program.”
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced on January 24 that his country would follow the EU lead and ban Iran oil imports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country regards Iran’s nuclear program as a possible existential threat, praised the new EU sanctions but said it was difficult to know what their result would be. He urged “heavy and swift pressure” on Iran, saying “the sanctions must be evaluated according to their results.”
“The European Union today decided to place sanctions on oil exports from Iran. I think this is a step in the right direction,” Netanyanu. “For now, it is impossible to know what the result of these sanctions will be, but heavy and swift pressure is needed on Iran. These sanctions must be evaluated according to the results they will bring. Today, Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons with no disruption.”
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano meanwhile announced that it will send a mission to Iran that “is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” according to an IAEA statement. The team will reportedly be in Iran from January 29 to January 31 to “resolve all outstanding substantive issues” regarding the possible military applications of Iran’s program.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said sanctions were designed to persuade Iran to return to talks on its nuclear program that Western powers fear is aimed at producing atomic weapons. “We will be discussing and finalizing additional sanctions [on Iran], particularly focused on the central bank and on oil exports,” Ashton said.
“But I do want to, again, reiterate that this is part of trying to get a twin-track approach. The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table and meet.” Ashton said world powers had yet to receive a reply from Tehran to an offer in October to hold new talks.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was critical that action against Iran be taken, saying it was not a question of security in the region alone, but “a question of security in the world.” Iranian officials, however, remained defiant, with a member of parliament’s energy commission, Ali Adyani, saying oil sanctions “will not have any effect on Iran’s economy.”
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “unilateral sanctions don’t help matters.” Lavrov added that Moscow would try to deter both Iran and the West from making counterproductive moves and seek a resumption of international talks.
The negotiations between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members — Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France — and Germany have been stalled for a year. Iran says its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, but Western powers and many international officials fear it is aimed at producing atomic weapons.
Four rounds of UN sanctions have targeted Iran’s nuclear activities, and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently accused Tehran of work “specific to nuclear weapons.” The EU and the United States are working to persuade countries in Asia to reduce their oil purchases from Iran as well.
Iran has threatened to retaliate over new sanctions by blocking the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which some 20 percent of the world’s oil exports pass. The United States has vowed to keep the trade route open. The United States says one of its aircraft carriers as well as a British and a French warship have recently sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Gulf without incident.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet said the “USS Abraham Lincoln” had completed what she called a “regular and routine” passage through the strait. Britain’s Defense Ministry said British and French naval vessels had accompanied the U.S. carrier through the waterway. At the January 23 meeting, EU foreign ministers also agreed to widen sanctions against Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime in Belarus.
compiled from agency reports
Notching up the pressure on Iran
European Union @ United Nations, 31.01.2012
Summary: 31 January 2012, Brussels – Deeply concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme, at their meeting on 23 January EU Foreign Ministers agreed on more restrictive measures affecting various sectors. Ministers stressed that the measures “are aimed at affecting the funding of Iran’s nuclear programme by the Iranian regime and are not aimed at the Iranian people”.
The EU is pursuing a dual-track approach whereby sanctions are intended to persuade Iran to engage in constructive and substantive talks with a view to finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue. In accordance with this policy, High Representative Catherine Ashton announced that ministers had agreed on additional measures, but that the door continued to remain open for serious negotiations with the Iranian government.
Various sectors were targeted: energy, finance and transport, in addition to further designations of persons and entities. A phased embargo of Iranian crude oil products to the EU received particular attention; restrictions regarding the financial sector include the Iranian Central Bank.
Serious concerns over Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes have continued for some years now, leading to six UN Security Council and eleven IAEA Board resolutions. The UN agreed sanctions in order to urge Iran to comply with its international obligations and to co-operate with the IAEA. The EU has taken autonomous measures in addition to the UN sanctions.
After the IAEA Director-General had submitted a worrying report dated 8 November 2011, the Council reinforced existing restrictive measures and agreed to examine a broadening of sanctions. The result of this examination was the measures which were adopted on 23 January.
In addition, the Council remains concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran. During 2011 the Council had adopted restrictive measures against persons responsible for human rights violations in Iran while underlining at the same time that it remained ready to discuss human rights issues with the Iranian authorities.
EU source: European Union
Nuclear talks on Iran: Really the last chance?
11 April, 2012, 17:01
This weekend’s Istanbul talks on Iran’s nuclear program are seen as the last chance to avoid military conflict with Tehran. The bitter irony is that the P5+1 group of major Western powers, Russia and China has split into two: good cops and bad. Tehran remains defiant in its will to joint the elite nuclear club, regardless of how high the membership fee is.
While all members of the “big six” on Iran are unanimous in their resolve to prevent Tehran from acquiring an “Islamic bomb”, there is a lot of disarray over how to achieve this goal without driving the region into another big war. A war which might eventually not only level Iranian nuclear sites, but also shatter the world around us to the very foundation.
But in a last-minute effort to prevent the new round of talks from ending in fiasco as the previous one did in January, the world community has become divided, speaking not in a much-needed “single voice”, but in two voices, each pushing its own arguments. Which makes them clash and contradict one another.
One voice – the voice of the United States and its Western partners – is growingly impatient and increasingly demanding. This is a harsh voice, sounding more and more like an ultimatum. State Secretary Clinton’s statement that time is not “infinite” for diplomacy and that “all options remain on the table”, made on the eve of the Istanbul talks, could hardly ease tensions or make Iranians more flexible and cooperative. Ms Clinton warned that unless Iranians make serious concessions from the very start of the Istanbul talks, they “will continue to face strong pressure and isolation”.
Up until now, “strong pressure and isolation” haven’t worked with Iran when it comes to its nuclear program, even if sanctions have made ordinary Iranians suffer. I remember how an expert in Iranian culture explained to me that suffering can even be interpreted by the Shia religious tradition, followed by the majority in Iran, as a manifestation of extreme devotion to God.
So, if pressure and sanctions inflict more suffering, Iranian mullahs will be articulate enough to explain to ordinary folks: look, this is a sacrifice to the God Almighty, a sacrifice to the nation all of you should be proud of.
While the bad cop camp is entering the Istanbul talks with a “Those who press, rule the world” approach, the other camp has adopted quite a different view. It argues that pressure exercised on Iran can only break the mechanism of the negotiating process and force it to crumble. But if it is broken, who will fix it? The second voice on Iran is distinct enough, but quieter, softer. In the P5+1 group, this is the voice of Russia and China.
“Nobody can win concessions from the Iranian side with a policy of threats, no more than with a policy of sanctions,” explained Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in a recent interview with Interfax agency, adding that Western muscle-flexing in the Gulf, staged against the backdrop of the Istanbul talks, “is unacceptable and according to all rules must be stopped”.
However, it is not only the carefully veiled discord among the P5+1 group member-states that complicates finding a solution to the lingering Iranian crisis. If you have a closer look at the anatomy of the diplomatic crisis over the Iranian nuclear program, you will probably discover that there is no clear understanding of what to do with Iran, even within the Obama administration itself.
To be more precise, what we hear from the White house today is not one voice either, but two. On the one hand, there is plenty of intimidating rhetoric, like “the clock is ticking” and “the window of diplomacy is closing”. On the other hand, it was no one other than President Obama himself who, in one of his recent statements, acknowledged that Iran is not building a nuclear weapon right now. Moreover, he said, a decision to make a bomb has not even been taken.
But if so, Tehran has not crossed the “red line” drawn by the White House, and there is no credible argument for attacking it (if there can ever be an argument credible enough to attack someone!) Moreover, the man at the top of the Iranian pyramid of power – Islamic revolution Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa (a top spiritual ruling, which can’t be altered or withdrawn) that nuclear weapons are a sin against Islam. Given all this, what is that big fuss over the Iranian nuclear program and Tehran’s last chance all about?
The Obama administration’s position on Iran is increasingly falling hostage to many factors in both domestic and foreign policy. These factors are growing pressure from Republicans and the powerful Jewish lobby in the US, as well as the position of the Israeli hawks, who make themselves clear that the Jewish state will take the final decision on Iran based on its own considerations, not on instructions or friendly advise from Washington. Another unpleasant, if not humiliating moment for the 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner, isn’t it?
So, there are a lot of factors that can jeopardize the negotiating process, extremely fragile in itself, with vague promises and deep-seated mistrust among the major players dominating the show. The chances for a political solution to the Iranian crisis – let us say it openly – are pretty slim.
However, whose last chance is it? It is hardly the last chance for Iran. Most probably, this is the last chance for world diplomacy to show that it is neither a vanity fair, nor a spectacular talk show to please domestic audiences greedy for live action movies and CNN war reports.
Sergey Strokan, for RT
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Six-party talks ‘encouraging’ after 15-month break
14 April, 2012, 21:47
Iran and six major world powers have had a “constructive” and “encouraging” discussion over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program in Turkey. As a goodwill gesture, Iran has issued a religious decree banning the production of nuclear weapons. The US delegation has asked for tete-a-tete meeting with Iranian diplomats following the end of Saturday’s round of talks. Iran, however, turned down the request, saying that “it is not Iran’s policy to have bilateral talks with the US.”
“No bilateral talks with the US will be formed,” Iranian national security official Alaeddin Boroujeddi told the Associated Press. “Iran will talk to them on the multilateral level.” Earlier reports suggested that a US envoy had agreed with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on a bilateral meeting on the issue later on Saturday.
Nevertheless, the latest round of talks over Tehran’s nuclear program has been described as generally successful by the majority of participants. The next round of talks is scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad.
Discussions resumed on Saturday after a 15-month break, with the previous round ending in stalemate. Before the P5+1 talks behind closed doors began, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a “fatwa,” or religious prohibition, on nuclear weapons in Iran.
“There was a very constructive atmosphere compared to last time … generally a positive vibe,” said a diplomat who demanded anonymity. “The principle seems to be there for future negotiations.” The long-term goal of Iran’s counterparts, who insist Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons, is to force the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear program and stop all uranium enrichment.
Diplomats remained somewhat optimistic before the session, saying that Iran’s readiness for discussion would be considered enough of a success to warrant a follow-up round. However, Foad Izadi from Tehran University believes that with all the rhetoric and threats coming from Washington, there is not much ground to be optimistic about in the talks that US President Barack Obama called the “last chance for diplomacy.”
“In fact it is somewhat surprising that Iranian government officials go to these meetings and basically listen to the other side, which is more or less repeating the same demands that are not really acceptable to the Iranian side,” Izadi told RT. Kian Mokhtari, a columnist and commentator in Tehran, says that Tehran has already made the biggest compromise anyone can expect from these talks – the fatwa banning all production of nuclear weapons.
“He [Khamenei] did so just to reassure the P5+1 that no such thing will be taking place within a theocracy within which he has issued this decree.” It is unrealistic to think that Iran can be forced to stop uranium enrichment, Mokhtari added. So he believes this round of talks will concentrate more on transparency and confidence building on both sides of the argument.
04.26 US ‘not giving anything away’ by agreeing to talks with Iran – Obama
RT News line, April 16, 2012
US President Barack Obama said his government was not giving “anything away” by holding a new series of talks with Iran, and that he was making sure the negotiations were not turning into a “stalling process.” Obama’s speech, at a news conference concluding the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, was a direct response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that the US had given Iran a “freebie” by agreeing to hold more talks. Some Western powers suspect that Tehran is harboring a nuclear weapons program.
11:25, Iran could discuss ‘level of uranium enrichment’
RT News line, April 16, 2012
Tehran will not give up its right to enrich uranium, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday. But he added that enrichment covers a wide range, from natural uranium to 100 per cent enrichment. “So one can talk within this spectrum,” he told Jam-e Jam television, as cited by AFP. Tehran and world powers agreed in Istanbul on Saturday to hold a more in-depth meeting in Baghdad on May 23. It is too soon to talk about the enrichment issue, Salehi said, adding that it is up to the Baghdad meeting.
20.30. Iran ready to make nuclear concessions if sanctions lifted
RT News line, April 16, 2012
All nuclear issues could be resolved during the next round of P5+1 talks in Baghdad – if the West takes “confidence-building measures” and lifts its sanctions, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian news agency ISNA in an interview. “It can speed up the process of negotiations, reaching results,” Salehi said. “If there is goodwill, one can pass through this process very easily and we are ready to resolve all issues very quickly and simply.”
Iran is currently under four sets of UN sanctions over its controversial nuclear program. The US and EU have also slapped the Islamic Republic with their own sets of sanctions, targeting the country’s financial markets and oil industry. Nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers resumed on April 14. The latest meeting, in Turkey, was described as generally successful by the majority of participants. The next round of talks is scheduled for May 23, in Baghdad.
The United States’ Puppy Dog Countries Factor
US gives exemption on Iran sanctions to 11 nations
By Donna Cassata and Matthew Lee | Associated Press – Tue, Mar 20, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration on Tuesday exempted 10 European Union countries and Japan from U.S. economic sanctions because they have significantly reduced their purchases of petroleum from Iran.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton granted waivers to Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Japan, meaning that banks and other financial institutions based there will not be hit with penalties under U.S. law for a renewable period of 180 days.
President Barack Obama has until March 30 to determine whether oil prices and supplies are sufficient to levy sanctions later this year on countries that still buy oil from Iran. Pending that decision, another 12 nations — including India, China and South Korea — that are deemed to be major importers of Iranian oil have until June 28 to take similar steps or face sanctions. Administration officials believe granting some exemptions before officially authorizing the sanctions could motivate other countries that buy oil from Iran to reduce their purchases.
The sanctions target foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank by barring them from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. It would apply to foreign central banks only for transactions that involve the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.
The petroleum penalties only apply if the president determines there is a sufficient alternative supply and if the country with jurisdiction over the financial institution has not significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian oil. It also allows the president to waive the penalties based on national security.
In a statement, Clinton lauded the countries granted exemptions, noting that the actions they had taken to reduce their imports from Iran “were not easy.”
“They had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil, which many had been reliant on for their energy needs,” she said. “We commend these countries for their actions and urge other nations that import oil from Iran to follow their example.”
Clinton singled out Japan for praise, noting that it had acted despite severe energy constraints brought about by last year’s earthquake and tsunami. Japan has reduced its imports by between 15 percent and 22 percent by finding other suppliers and focusing on alternative energy sources, according to U.S. officials.
There have been concerns that the squeeze on Iranian customers could send oil prices sharply higher as countries reduced Iranian exports and made up for it by buying from other suppliers. However, oil producers like Saudi Arabia have said they are willing to help offset the difference and U.S. officials have said the restoration of Libya’s crude output to levels produced during the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi will also help. Many European countries imported large amounts of oil from Libya, which essentially dried up as a source during the revolt in that country.
Oil prices dropped Tuesday after the exemptions were announced. Traders noted that the exemptions mean some countries that import Iranian oil won’t have to cut off all of it. Some had feared that if many countries had been required to cut off all their imported Iranian oil, it could have created a run on supplies and caused prices to jump.
“It’ll reduce the squeeze,” said Peter Donovan, an oil broker at Vantage Trading. Concerns about tightened oil markets have boosted benchmark crude prices 7 percent this year. Brent crude, which prices foreign oil imported by U.S. refineries, is up 16 percent. A prolonged dispute with Iran could eventually lead to supply shortages in parts of the world, driving both oil and gas prices higher.
The European nations were already subject to European Union rules requiring them to phase out their imports. Those rules were put in place after the passage of the U.S. sanctions legislation that is designed to further isolate Iran and compel it to comply with U.N. demands to come clean about its nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using the program to develop atomic weapons while Iran insists it is to produce nuclear energy.
“The United States is leading an unprecedented international coalition of partners that has brought to bear significant pressure on the Iranian regime to change its course,” Clinton said. “Diplomacy coupled with strong pressure can achieve the long-term solutions we seek and we will continue to work with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who co-authored the sanctions legislation designed to thwart Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, said in a statement that he supported the secretary’s decision.
“The sanctions are working — many countries and companies have stepped up in recognition of the real threat that Iran poses to its neighbors and the global community and are terminating business relations with Iran,” he said. “For the first time we are seeing a real impact on the Iranian economy.”
“I think our message to Iran is clear and time will tell what they value more, their nuclear program or the political and economic stability of their state,” Menendez said.
Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington and Energy Writer Chris Kahn in New York contributed to this report.
War with Iran to cause 30% oil price shock – IMF
Published: 21 March, 2012, 17:18
A sudden cut of oil flow from Iran may cause a surge of crude prices of up to 30 per cent, dealing a blow to the world economy, warns IMF chief Christine Lagarde. The continuing standoff between Iran and the West may result in “serious consequences” for the world Lagarde, executive director of the International Monetary Fund, said Tuesday. “Clearly it would be a shock to economies if there was a major shortage of exports of oil out of Iran, it would certainly drive up prices for a period of time,” she told the media.
The IMF chief estimates that a sudden disruption of oil flow from the world’s second-largest exporter may cause the price to surge by 20 to 30 per cent. Benchmark crude prices have risen 7 per cent this year alone, as traders monitor the mounting pressure on Iran.
US contemplates petroleum penalties
The tension was somewhat deflated after the US said it would exempt 10 European nations and Japan from penalties for trading oil with Iran. All of them sided with American sanctions against Tehran’s oil industry and took steps towards reducing import from the Islamic Republic.
“We commend these countries for their actions and urge other nations that import oil from Iran to follow their example,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as the exemption was announced. At the same time the US has a list of 12 countries which failed to join the sanctions and thus may be targeted by American penalties for doing so. Among those are the largest buyers of Iranian oil China and India as well as US allies South Korea and Turkey.
President Obama may order to cut off banks operating in these countries and involved in oil trade with Iran from the American financial system. They may still get a waiver if the US national interests require so or if they change their policies by June 28. The US issued sanctions against Iranian oil trade last year in a bid to stop uranium enrichment by Tehran. The West suspects that Tehran may be secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon, an accusation Iran denies.
The campaign has resulted in surge of domestic prices in Iran and devaluation of its national currency, the rial. It also resulted in the rise of world oil prices, as nations following America’s suit were looking for alternative sources of oil.
Oil prices get ‘fear premium’ spike
Published: 21 March, 2012, 16:32
Edited: 21 March, 2012, 20:03
A growing ‘oil bubble’ is becoming more serious a threat to the global economy than European weakness, according to head of the IMF. And these are market speculators who are enlarging the bubble, even though there is no threat of an oil shortage. “It’s obvious that Europe is no longer in the focus of everybody’s attention,” Christine Lagarde says.
Today the prices for oil are spinning upwards, with Brent Crude now being traded at $124.5/bbl and WTI standing at about $106.6/bbl. Geopolitical factors have become a major player in the oil market, Sergey Vakhromeev, a senior analyst at Metropol, told Business RT. The fears over disruptions of oil deliveries from Iran, as well as political unrest in the Middle East, make investors bid higher.
Today “around $20 to $25 in the current oil price is a “fear premium,” Vakhromeev specified. Meantime, there’s enough oil for everybody in the world, as Saudi Arabia, for example, could easily compensate for the possible loss of Iranian oil, the Metropol expert said.
Also experts don’t expect Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz anytime soon. “Iran is still tightened to the world of trade despite US measures there are still countries that buy its crude. Right now I don’t think they will attempt to close the Strait”, Jorge Montepeque is Platts’ Global Director of Markets Reporting told RT. He stressed: “Of course closing it isn’t an easy thing to do. We have been there 20 years ago during Iran-Iraqi war and the Strait was never fully shut down.”
Last week the country tried to “scare prices lower” – to a more sustainable level of $100/bbl for Brent -, saying it was ready to ramp up production. Saudi Arabia wanted to stress that “the market is actually currently oversupplied and that inventories are rising,” said Chris Weafer, a chief strategist at Troika Dialog.
“The country fears the price is being pushed higher by speculators playing the expanding risk premium, and that the higher the price rose the greater the risk of a 2008-style collapse,” Weafer specified. In July 2008, the price of oil hit a record high of over $147 a barrel and then nosedived.
“For the Russian investment case, it can certainly be argued that $100-110/bbl Brent is a good compromise”, as it’ll drag the country’s budget into deficit, Weafer added. But after a broader look, one can see “that would be a better investment backdrop for Russia,” as well as major oil importers.
“Russian equities and the rouble would weaken if Brent were to fall quickly from $125 to $110 or $115/bbl. If the price stabilized there, it would be a strong buying opportunity for GEM [global emerging markets] and Russia,” Weafer concluded.
Govt welcomes U.S. decision
By Hideyuki Ioka / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, 22.03.2012
The government has welcomed the decision by the United States to exempt Japan from sanctions on crude oil imports from Iran. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Wednesday at a press conference that the government’s efforts to reduce crude oil imports from Iran were “highly regarded” by the United States.
Japan has reduced crude oil imports from Iran by 40 percent during the past five years. Regarding future reductions, Fujimura said, “We’re explaining to the U.S. side our efforts to reduce [crude oil imports from Iran] by a considerable amount.” Japan’s percentage of crude oil imports from Iran has been reduced from 12.1 percent in 2007 to 8.8 percent in 2011. The government intends to continue this reduction by increasing imports from Saudi Arabia and other countries.
The United States has taken into account the significance of its alliance with Japan in praising the efforts made to reduce the country’s reliance on Iranian oil. Japan’s demand for fuel for thermal power generation has increased because most nuclear power plants around the country have been taken offline. If crude oil imports from Iran are completely halted, Japan may be unable to secure enough energy.
While West Texas Intermediate, an indicator of global crude oil prices, was priced at about 97 dollars per barrel in early February, it has now risen to about 106 dollars per barrel due to growing tension over Iran. Other countries relying on imported crude oil from Iran are expected to start securing alternative crude oil suppliers. Rising crude oil prices will continue to be a major concern for the Japanese economy.
(Mar. 22, 2012)
U.S. sanctions on Iran oil exempt Japan / 10 European countries also win waivers
Kentaro Nakajima / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent, 22.03.2012
WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday that Japan and 10 European countries will be exempt from U.S. sanctions on crude oil imports from Iran, which have been imposed to prevent the Middle East nation from developing nuclear weapons. This is the first time waivers under the the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a section stipulating economic sanctions against Iran, have been applied since its enactment in December.
With the decision, Japanese financial institutions will not be subject to U.S. sanctions for conducting deals with Iran’s central bank. In reaching the decision, the United States evaluated that Japan has cut a significant amount of Iranian crude oil imports. The 10 other countries exempted are Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. All are EU members.
Regarding Japan, the U.S. State Department noted its efforts to cut crude oil imports from Iran by 15 percent to 22 percent during the last half of 2011, when it had to rely more on thermal power generation following the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March.
The department, however, did not disclose details regarding how much Japan will cut crude oil imports in the future, citing corporate confidentiality.
“Japan’s significant reductions in crude oil purchases is also especially noteworthy considering the extraordinary energy and other challenges it has faced over the past year,” U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a statement released Wednesday. “We commend these countries for their actions and urge other nations that import oil from Iran to follow their example.”
The U.S. Congress played a leading role to enact the NDAA, which upgrades sanctions against Iran by, for example, prohibiting banks in third-party countries from conducting deals with U.S. banks if they are found to have made crude oil-related transactions with Iran. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has had difficulties working with the Congress, which holds a hard-line stance against the Middle East country.
Therefore, it was widely expected the administration would not apply sanctions to Japan and other U.S. allies if they agreed to significantly reduce crude oil imports from Iran. According to the State Department, the NDAA lists 23 countries subject to U.S. sanctions, including the 11 nations that have earned waivers. China and South Korea, major importers of Iranian crude oil, have also indicated cuts at the request of the United States. Therefore, it is highly unlikely the United States will actually subject countries to its sanctions, diplomatic sources said.
The India Factor
India won’t cut Iranian oil imports despite US, EU sanctions: Pranab Mukherjee
Reuters | Jan 30, 2012, 09.50AM IST
India, which imports 12% of its oil from the Islamic Republic, cannot do without Iranian oil, Pranab Mukherjee said. CHIGAGO: India, the world’s fourth-largest oil consumer, will not take steps to cut petroleum imports from Iran despite US and European sanctions against Tehran, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday during a visit to Chicago.
The United States wants buyers in Asia, Iran’s biggest oil market, to cut imports to put further pressure on Tehran to rein in its nuclear ambitions. Washington suspects Iran of trying to make nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful means. India, which imports 12 percent of its oil from the Islamic Republic, cannot do without Iranian oil, Mukherjee said.
“It is not possible for India to take any decision to reduce the imports from Iran drastically, because among the countries which can provide the requirement of the emerging economies, Iran is an important country amongst them,” Mukherjee told reporters in Chicago at the end of a two-day visit aimed at wooing US investment.
New US sanctions, authorized on December 31 and which penalize any financial institutions dealing with Iran’s central bank, could make it more difficult for India to pay Iran for oil imports. The European Union banned oil imports from Iran earlier this month.
Mukherjee said he projects India to return to its path of high economic growth, despite an expected slowdown to a 7 percent pace this year from 8.5 percent last year. The Indian fiscal year ends in March. “This year, because of the European debt crisis and the slowing of developed economies, there has been a slowdown” in India’s growth, he said. “It will be possible to make it up in a year or two.”
The Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) last week held its policy rate steady and signaled its next move could be a rate cut, after signs that outsized price pressures may be ebbing. Inflation, as measured by wholesale prices, rose 7.47 percent in December, its slowest pace in two years, and Mukherjee said he expected further declines.
“If this trend continues, I am optimistic (India will see inflation of) 6.5 percent to 7 percent by end of the year,” he said. But a possible move by the US Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy further could reverse that outlook, he said. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last week opened the door to a third round of quantitative easing, suggesting that a continued decline in inflation and ongoing economic weakness could justify new bond buying.
The Fed’s last round of bond-buying drew loud criticism from emerging economies who said it sparked inflation and hurt their exports. Mukherjee repeated that criticism on Sunday, saying US quantitative easing creates “inflationary impacts” in emerging economies and boosts uncertainty.
Govt wants more exports to Iran
TNN | Feb 10, 2012, 06.04AM IST
NEW DELHI: The government wants exporters to exploit the opportunity of increasing exports to Iran after the sanctions imposed by the US and Europe on Tehran. A large business delegation is expected to visit Iran later this month to assess the situation. Senior government officials are also expected to be part of the delegation.
“We will be mounting a mission to Iran at the end of the month to promote our own exports. A huge delegation will be going,” Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters. He did not give details. Government officials say that India will only adhere to sanctions imposed by the UN and wants exporters to increase shipments to Teheran to close the gap in bilateral trade.
Trade between India and Iran is about $13.6 billion and exports from India is only $2.74 billion. “If Europe and the US want to stop export to Iran, why should I (India) follow the suit. Why shouldn’t we tap that opportunity,” said a government source. Officials say Indian exporters can exploit opportunities in sectors such as tea, wheat and rice, metals pharmaceuticals; iron and steel and infrastructure.
” We are asking them to export non-sanction goods,” the source added. India depends on imports to meet nearly 80% of its oil requirements. Iranian crude accounts for 12% of oil imports and any disruption to supplies could hurt the Indian economy.
India has faced criticism for its trade ties with Iran. US senators have also expressed their concern on the issue. But Indian officials say it is vital to keep its ties with Iran due to the crucial oil imports. “How do we run our cars. How do we keep the engines of our economy running? The decision should be left to us,” said another source. On Tuesday, Iran agreed to government’s proposal to accept 45% of payment for Iranian crude in rupees. Payments to Iran for crude had been disrupted after the US and EU sanctions. An Indian delegation visited Iran and held extensive talks before finalizing the plan.
India against more sanctions on Iran
Sandeep Dikshit, New Delhi, February 11, 2012
New Delhi views Tehran as a friend and important source of energy
India and the European Union (EU) made progress on their Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement and nominated minister-level monitors to push for its early finalisation but it was discussions on regional issues, especially Iran and Syria, that took centre stage at their annual summit here on Friday.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy proclaimed that the EU was against a military solution to resolve the Tehran-West standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme and asked India to use its leverage with Iran to “bring it back to the negotiating table.”
“So, we are not working for any military option…We are working for a diplomatic solution to get Iran back on the negotiating table and we, according to our analysis, only bring them back to the table under pressure and under sanctions,” he said defending the latest round of sanctions announced by the U.S. and the EU.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocated dialogue rather than coercion. He admitted to “problems” with Iran’s nuclear programme but said New Delhi viewed Tehran differently from the West — as a close friend and important source of energy to India. Dr. Singh also indicated India’s aversion to a conflict in the Middle East over the Iran question, pointing out that the country wanted peace and stability because of the large number of its nationals (over 60 lakh) working in the Gulf countries.
Iran is India’s second largest source of crude but the West has frequently leaned on institutions and countries, ranging from the Asian Clearing Union to Turkey, to cut off the payment route. This has forced India to constantly look for new avenues to pay Iran for approximately Rs. 5,000 crore worth of crude it imports every month from that country.
While the two sides differed on Iran widely with India not in agreement with the West over its plans to impose more sanctions, which are not approved by the United Nations, they seemed to be on the same page on Syria. A joint statement released after the summit also saw both sides adopting a mild formulation on Pakistan.
There was no immediate resolution of complaints by Sikh passengers that they were being asked to take off their turbans during security checks, an insistence which they see as humiliating.
On Syria, the EU and India wanted the world community to back the Arab League’s formula for bringing back stability in the country. This solution was brought to the U.N. Security Council but was vetoed by Russia and China, which felt that the West was trying to do another Libya in Syria, a crucial swing country in West Asia.
The joint statement supported a democratic polity in Pakistan and as against India’s usual insistence on inserting a line that speaks against those providing sanctuaries to terrorists, settled on stressing the importance of Pakistan to cooperate with countries in the region to eliminate terrorism and dismantle terrorist networks. The statement also wanted an early start to talks on the Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), which is being resisted by Pakistan.
On Sikhs being asked to take off their turbans during security checks at some EU airports, the statement simply “took note” of their difficulties and “acknowledged the need for effective aviation security measures and discussed the ongoing development of new technologies and methods of addressing security concerns taking into account the dignity of the individuals involved”.
You cannot trust people with towels on their heads. Even for a dollar they will switch loyalty and friendship. Larry Ellison & Bill Gates are fooled by this towel heads to bring tech big business to India. Stop convincing these towel heads. They want to play hard ball because they want something in return. Just skip them in the diplomatic deals. Once there is a war they will realize that they are too will be affected somehow somewhere.
from: Juan Dela Cruz, Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 04:54 IST
India’s stand towards Iran for following only UN imposed sanctions owes a glowing tribute while it has established an Indian Rupee Mechanism for payments of the Iranian Oil against which Iran can import legitimate Indian Goods and services for projects.
The need of the hour is to liberalize the business visas for Iranian businessmen on fast track which is subject to certain clearances so that they could visit their counter parts in India and avail the purchasing facility under mechanism of Indian Rupees as mere sending Indian delegations to Iran for business exploration cannot be successful without reciprocal visits of Iranian businessmen.
The Rupee mechanism payment will only be successful if the Iranian businessmen are allowed and welcome by granting Business Visas on the fast track.
from: P.S.Chandhok, Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 09:31 IST
At least one attempt has already been made to smuggle a lethal object on board an airplane in a turban. It is completely inevitable, given the certainty that hurt feelings will as usual prevail in this matter too, that an act of terrorism will eventually be achieved by means of a turban, and then of course everyone will blame the evil racist western security forces that did not do enough to protect Indians blah blah blah.
from: Ashu, Posted on: Feb 11, 2012 at 10:27 IST
It’s strange how India was never consulted when the West sought to impose their unilateral sanctions against Iran and now that the West has imposed sanctions, expects India to acquiesce to their demands and satisfy their agenda by hurting India’s domestic economy. Never trust a western diplomat, particularly an Europeans diplomat – they are all imperialists and mercantilism exploiters. They are just angry to see India getting a good deal on oil while they are abstaining and not getting good deals.
from: Mazo, Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 11:48 IST
Whole world should put sanction on United States for breaking United nation international Law on destroying Iraq. India should put Sanction on America for not returning Bhopal gas disaster and should ask for Warren Anderson’s extradition from the USA.The killer who was responsible for killing 30,000 Indians who is wanted in India.
from: cnu, Posted on: Feb 12, 2012 at 18:53 IST
I dont understand, Why this U.S and EU countries are putting their nose on each and every issue related economical or Domestic of Asians, whatever it may be related to Security, Terrorism or Threat.
from: Adnan Sayyed, Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:06 IST
India has good and valid reasons for not coercing Iran with more sanctions and snapping its relations. India has a different equation with Iran and this has to be explained effectively and forcefully by our foreign missions to the opinion leaders and to the media of all countries.
from: Veevip Sarathy, Posted on: Feb 15, 2012 at 21:46 IST
Amazingly, Hindus censors seem oblivious to Juan De La Cruz’s racist sentiments and language expressed in the first post. Its been established over and over again that the biggest terrorist State in the world is the U.S. Shouldnt we scrape their white skins off before they enter our country to check for ‘impious’ thoughts and terrorist intentions ?
from: S. Reddy, Posted on: Mar 29, 2012 at 05:42 IST
Iran struggles to find new oil customers
ByJavier Blas in Vancouver and Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran
Last updated: February 20, 2012 8:58 am
Iran is struggling to find a buyer for nearly a quarter of its annual oil exports as looming western sanctions targeting the country’s nuclear programme start to bite the world’s third-biggest crude exporter.
Tehran is trying to sell an extra 500,000 barrels a day of oil, or nearly 23 per cent of what it exported last year, to Chinese and Indian refiners, according to two industry executives familiar with the talks. “Iran is facing severe problems finding a new buyer,” one of the executives said, explaining that Tehran was not offering discounts for the oil, which is for delivery from the start of April.
If it cannot find customers by mid-March for the oil, which is equal to the amount European refiners bought last year, Iran would be forced to put unsold barrels into floating storage in supertankers, or reduce output. Either measure could push oil prices higher. Brent crude hit an eight-month high of $120.70 a barrel on Friday, amid worries about Iranian supplies and production disruptions in South Sudan and Yemen. On Monday it rose again, to $121.01 a barrel.
The European Union approved a ban on oil imports from Iran last month but delayed full implementation until July 1 so that Greece, Spain and Italy had enough time to find alternative supplies. In what appeared to be an effort to pre-empt the embargo, Tehran announced at the weekend it was cutting crude sales to French and British companies.
Alireza Nikzad, a spokesman for Iran’s oil ministry, announced on Sunday that Tehran had replaced the companies from the two countries with “new customers”. He gave no further details. Both France and Britain have already all but stopped buying Iranian crude, suggesting the move may turn out to be largely symbolic.
Even so, this is the first real action by Tehran after weeks of threats and could still have a psychological impact that may push up oil prices as the market worries that Iran could halt exports to other nations. The Iran crisis is set to dominate International Petroleum Week, the annual gathering of the oil industry that starts on Monday in London.
The International Energy Agency, the western countries’ oil watchdog, said earlier this month that European refiners “have already curtailed imports of Iranian crude”, and added that some Asian buyers would follow. China, the single-largest buyer of Iranian crude with imports of about 550,000 b/d last year, is now buying half that volume, according to the IEA.
European oil companies including Total of France, Royal Dutch Shell, Repsol YPF of Spain and Eni of Italy have either stopped buying Iranian oil or have halted spot purchases, industry executives said. Iranian lawmakers have called for an immediate halt in the country’s exports of oil to all EU states to hurt the region’s economy and demonstrate the country’s determination to go ahead with its nuclear ambitions.
Payment issue with Iran resolved: FIEO
PTI Mar 2, 2012, 04.11PM IST
NEW DELHI: Exporters body FIEO today said the long-standing payment problem with Iran has been resolved as shipments to the Islamic nation will now be paid in the Indian rupee. “The payment problem with Iran has been resolved with operationalisation of rupee payment mechanism through UCO Bank. The payments which have been stuck in the past will be cleared expeditiously,” Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Rafeeque Ahmed said in a statement here.
He said “such positive action” by the government will encourage exporters to aggressively export to Iran and optimise utilisation of Rupee balance in oil import pool. The Department of Financial Services, Ahmed said, has asked the FIEO to bring cases where an exporter is facing payment problem with regard to export to Iran before the government.
Following resolution of the payment issue, he said the Indian business delegation, which is going to Iran on March 10-14, will be able to negotiate new contracts with their Iranian counterparts. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade ( DGFT) has also agreed to grant all export benefits to exports for which the payment is received in Indian rupee, he said, adding the notifications would be issued soon.
The problem with Iran began after the Reserve Bank of India ( RBI) in December 2010 withdrew the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism under which payments were made to Iran.
India, Iran look at $25 billion trade by 2015
PTI Mar 12, 2012, 01.46PM IST
DUBAI: India and Iran plan to reach $25 billion in annual bilateral trade in the next four years, Indian commerce ministry has said. Heading an 80-member trade delegation to Iran, Joint Secretary of the Indian Commerce Ministry Arvind Mehta has said the current bilateral trade is around $15 billion.
The delegation was on a five-day visit to the country to explore commercial opportunities, a Tehran Times report said. It comprised representatives from the public and private sectors, included President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations ( FIEO) Rafeeque Ahmed.
India has been examining ways to step up trade with Iran amid problems in settling its oil bills from Iran as a result of the intensifying sanctions by the US and others, aimed at forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear programme. India’s Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar had said last month that New Delhi would send a delegation to Iran to “promote our own exports” and investigate business opportunities created by the sanctions.
He had said there were “huge opportunities” to be reaped by India. The two countries hope to settle around 45 per cent of their oil trade in rupees by increasing exports, the report said.
US threatens sanctions against India over Iran oil
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN Mar 16, 2012, 12.13AM IST
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is threatening to impose sanctions on India over its continued economic ties with Iran amid disagreements between Washington and New Delhi over how much and how soon the latter is reducing oil imports from the (in US eyes) pariah nation.
India has “failed” to reduce its purchase of Iranian oil and if it doesn’t do so, President Barack Obama may be “forced” to impose sanction, unnamed administration officials were cited as telling Bloomberg wire service. A decision in this regard could come as early as June 28, they added, implicitly offering New Delhi a ten- week window to show a decline in Iranian oil imports.
Indian officials have contested the US assessment by insisting New Delhi is scaling down Iranian oil imports with more reduction in the pipeline, but that concession has been offset by India’s commerce ministry’s well-publicized efforts to ramp up trade with Iran in other areas, a move that has not gone unnoticed by the powerful pro-Israeli lobby in US.
The potent American Jewish Committee (AJC), which holds Israeli interests dear to its heart, raged against an Indian business delegation being shepherded to Iran by the Indian commerce ministry, pointing to it as an example of New Delhi’s perfidy at a time Israel is India’s close military and counter-terrorism partner.
That prompted a strong rebuttal from the Indian embassy in Washington, accusing certain lobbies of presenting a “distorted picture of New Delhi’s foreign policy objectives and energy security needs” by selective use of data about its imports from Iran. But the anti-Iran lobby in US has been galvanized by a report on Wednesday from the International Energy Agency (IEA), showing that India and South Korea “sharply” increased their oil imports from Iran in January.
However, India has informally conveyed to Washington that it has advised its refineries, many of which are geared towards processing Iranian crude, to seek alternate supplies and gradually reduce their dependence on Iran. That process may take some time to kick in since annual crude contracts with Iran are April to March, so the reduction will start to show from next month.
India has enough time to show compliance since the US law relating to sanctions vis-a-vis Iran kicks in only if countries don’t make a “significant” cuts in their Iranian crude oil purchases during the first half of this year. The law does not specify by what percentage a nation must reduce its imports to qualify for an exemption from sanctions, so countries like South Korea and Japan have been negotiating with Washington the quantum of cuts they can live with. India is also believed to be in discussion with U.S in this matter.
While the impending Indian compliance has been quietly acknowledged by some Obama administration officials, the hardline pro-Israeli lobby in US is champing at the bit. At a Congressional hearing earlier this month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers that while the US remains concerned about India’s links with Iran, she acknowledged that New Delhi is ”heading in the right direction”.
“In fact, I think in a number of instances, the actions of countries and their banks are better than the public statements that we sometimes hear them making,” Clinton said in an indication of the Indian assurances.
The Obama administration itself is in a bind over squeezing too hard and tightening oil supplies across the world. While Washington has offered to wean India and other countries from Iranian oil by arranging supplies from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, that could come at its own expense and rising oil prices. Already, gas prices are close to $ 4 a gallon at US pumps, and it is a well-acknowledged fact that the fortunes of US politicians running for high office is linked to pain (or otherwise) at the pump.
Dero (Canada), 19 Mar, 2012 10:38 PM
Ahmadinijad said that Israel will be wiped off the map just like the ussr was, meaning you cannot keep people under occupation for ever, but they took this statement and turned it into he want’s to Nuke them. There are two reasons why Iran is such a treat to the US and Israel, it is because Iran is independent and the US has no control over it but the main reason is because of Iran’s scientific growth even with 30 years of sanctions. Iran advocates fair trade between countries and now other countries are starting to look at this, that is why the US is worried about Iran’s influence in Latin America. Developing countries are realizing that if Iran can do it we can do it to we don’t need to be a lap dog to the superpowers. this is the real threat not Nukes
Dr. Siddharth Mishra (Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India), 19 Mar, 2012 12:17 PM
India should give a slap on the face of the biggest bully in the world – The USA! India should continue to buy oil from Iran!
nearmsp (USA) replies to Dr. Siddharth Mishra, 19 Mar, 2012 08:56 PM
The last I checked US never committed a terrorist attack on India. Now Indian police has arrested the muslim who helped 2 Iranians and lent his scooter to commit a terrorist attack 500 feet from the residence of the PM of this country. And yet communists like you love to blame the US for everything. Take off your tinted eye classes comrade and stop drinking the cool-aid.
Dr. Siddharth Mishra replies to nearmsp, 22 Mar, 2012 02:02 PM
Like the USA you also have false perception. This is why you called me a Communist! By the way, for your kind information, I am a Nationalist! Secondly, various Indian and Thai officials have also stated that the arrested Iranians belong to an Iranian rebel group known as MEK which is backed by the CIA and Mossad! Thirdly, the modus operandi of the embassy blasts is same like that of the attacks on the Iranian nuclear scientists. ISRAEL IS BEHIND THE TERRORIST ATTACKS!
nearmsp replies to Dr. Siddharth Mishra, 23 Mar, 2012 05:09 AM
What do you smoke? CIA murdering Jews in India. ROFL.
Dr. Siddharth Mishra replies to nearmsp, 23 Mar, 2012 04:58 PM
LOL.Who kills its own citizens? Was anyone killed in the embassy attack? If Iran would have done that then someone would have been killed! I am not saying this. Indian and Thai officials are giving hints that CIA and Mossad staged a false terror attacks on Israeli embassies through MEK an Iranian terror group supported by them. The proof is magnetic bombs which have been frequently used to kill Hezbollah members as well as many Iranian nuclear scientist. You thinking that secret wars and bombing are not carried out by the US and Israel ans they are pure? LOL to you then!
Nicole (Australia), 19 Mar, 2012 06:43 AM
I wonder if TOI can implement a numbering system?
Maji-satkel (Maharashtra), 18 Mar, 2012 07:24 PM
USA the weakest Lion, do not come across of India the Powerful Elephant. You will get dead by my small kick.
Catherine (USA), 18 Mar, 2012 07:11 PM
India is making mistake by purchasing Iranian oil, USA is like a loin, and we Indian must follow USA as fox. Since long USA could not help India but the time has come to get help with USA. USA will send many millions of oil to India soon with free of cost, incase India does not purchase Iranian oil. Make friendship with USA he will help you as helped to Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Vietnam, Somalia, North Korea, Pakistan, Libya so on.
Ahmed Nawaz (India) replies to Catherine, 19 Mar, 2012 12:59 PM
You mean helping in destroying the nations completely…. like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya to gain from their resources. Wake up Lady…This is REALITY….This is USA. USA HELPING Other countries…What a Joke?
Vandan Sood (Indore, India) replies to Catherine, 19 Mar, 2012 01:45 AM
U mean we ought to follow the US more like a freaking begging dog.. Catherine you dont sound like an Indian to me but if you are you should be ashamed of yourself!We Indians may not be the best in the world right now but we are no beggars you should know that go train puppies like pakistan who obey your commands!~~
U.S. exempts 11 states from Iran sanctions; China, India exposed
By Arshad Mohammed and Andrew Quinn, WASHINGTON | Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:56am EDT
(Reuters) – The United States exempted Japan and 10 EU nations from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian oil, but left Iran’s top customers China and India exposed to the possibility of such steps. The decision means banks in these countries have been given a six-month reprieve from the threat of being cut off from the U.S. financial system under new sanctions designed to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
The list did not include China and India, Iran’s top two crude oil importers, nor U.S. allies South Korea and Turkey, which are among the top-10 consumers of Iranian oil. Japan, China and India combined buy close to half of Iran’s crude exports of 2.6 million barrels a day, providing crucial foreign exchange for the OPEC member.
But the U.S. sanctions and an EU oil embargo have cut Iran out of financial networks, making it difficult to transfer funds to pay for trade and disrupting some oil shipments because of the difficulty of securing shipping insurance. Domestic prices in Iran have spiraled higher and the rial has slumped in value.
Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi welcomed the U.S. decision, saying on Wednesday that Japan would continue to cut its imports of Iranian oil at a set rate in the future. “The decision takes account of Japan’s steps on Iranian oil, including its future response,” he told reporters.
Indeed, the Japan government wants the nation’s crude buyers to cut Iran imports by 10 percent to 20 percent a year, Akihiko Tembo, the chairman of the Petroleum Association of Japan, said. A U.S. official held up Japan’s estimated 15-22 percent cut in oil purchases from Iran in the second half of last year as an example for other nations.
“Japan was a model,” Carlos Pascual, State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, told lawmakers, noting the cuts were made even after the country suffered an earthquake that caused a civil nuclear disaster. “If Japan was able to do what it did … that should be an example to others that they could potentially do more.”
Still, Pascual declined to set a benchmark that countries could use to secure an exemption. The law says they must “significantly reduce” Iranian oil imports and continue to do so to win exemptions, he said. Underlining U.S. efforts to tighten the financial noose around Iran, a state department official said 12 other countries may eventually be subject to U.S. sanctions unless they cut Iran crude purchases. He did not list them.
South Korea will hold another round of talks soon with the United States on significantly reducing its imports from Iran, a source at the Korea’s economy ministry said on Wednesday. In contrast to Japan, South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, increased its imports from Iran in 2011 by 20 percent. It’s refiners have signed deals to import a little more crude again from Iran in 2012.
South Africa’s energy minister said last week he hoped to have a plan by the end of May for replacing Iran supplies, which currently make up a quarter of its crude imports. But reflecting a problem for several countries, Turkey’s energy minister, Taner Yildiz, told reporters on Wednesday the country could not stop buying Iran crude unless alternative oil sources were found.
The 10 nations from the European Union, which has already decided to stop importing Iranian oil from July, were Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, the State Department said. “The actions taken by these countries were not easy,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “We commend these countries for their actions and urge other nations that import oil from Iran to follow their example.”
While China and India and others remain exposed to possible financial sanctions, U.S. law gives President Barack Obama the ability to waive such steps if this is in the national interest. China, Iran’s top trade partner and crude buyer, has made it clear that it rejects in principle the unilateral U.S. sanctions, while trying to maintain its energy ties with Tehran. It says Washington and the EU should not go beyond UN resolutions on Iran.
Still, China slashed Iranian crude imports by more than half in the first quarter of 2012 as China’s largest refiner Sinopec put pressure on Iran’s state oil company to protest against tougher contract terms proposed by Tehran. Those cuts, if averaged out over the full year, amount to a reduction of around 14 percent of the volume China imported on contract in 2011. India’s government says it is not under any obligation to observe U.S. sanctions, but privately has asked its refineries to cut Iran imports by at least 15 percent, industry sources have said.
JAPANESE CUTS MAY BE KEY
The United States has tightened sanctions due to Iran’s failure to answer questions about its nuclear program, which Washington and its allies suspect is a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says it is solely to generate power supply. World oil prices have surged on the growing Iran tensions – including the possibility that Israel will launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities – and on worries sanctions will tighten global oil supplies.
OPEC’s biggest producer Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it was ready to raise its output to 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd), from almost 10 million bpd now, if needed. The comments from Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, soothed nervous oil markets, although the price impact was partly offset by data showing a fall in U.S. crude inventories.
Mark Dubowitz, an advocate for tougher sanctions on Iran and the head of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Japan’s example was likely to be significant. “The key number will be what Japan agreed to,” he said. “This will be the number that other countries will have to meet or otherwise make the case to the administration why their energy circumstances demand a lower reduction.”
Cutting Iran crude imports may be easier for Japan than the likes of China and India. Demand for oil from the emerging giants has risen rapidly with their economic expansion, but a sluggish economy and a switch to other energy sources has meant Japan’s demand has been falling.
All 27 EU nations have agreed to an embargo on Iranian crude purchases by banning new imports from January 23 and phasing out existing contracts by July 1. A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 10 EU members granted exemptions were the only members that imported Iranian crude in 2011.
Under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Obama can impose financial sanctions on foreign banks that carry out financial transactions with Iran’s central bank “for the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran” if several conditions are met. The penalties include effectively cutting off a foreign bank from the U.S. financial system.
The law allows Obama not to apply sanctions if he determines a country with primary jurisdiction over a bank has “significantly reduced” its volume of crude oil purchases.
(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Tim Gardner, Emily Stephenson, Andrew Quinn, Rie Ishiguro in TOKYO; Cho Mee-young in SEOUL; Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Editing by Michael Perry and Neil Fullick)