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24 December 2011 - 14:18

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has extended a contract to export crude oil to Turkey through 2012, amid the West's mounting pressure to ratchet up sanctions against Tehran.

The NIOC has renewed its crude exports contracts with a number of Turkish oil companies, including Tubrash, Turkey's largest oil importer, by the end of 2012.

Official reports say the Turkish company has kept unchanged the trend of its transactions with Tehran amid intensifying anti-Iran sanctions by Western nations.

The United States, Britain and Canada imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors on November 21, after the IAEA released its report on Tehran's nuclear program, which claimed Iran's nuclear program had a military aspect.

In early December, the EU imposed new sanctions against 37 Iranian individuals and 143 companies or organizations. The bloc, however, has delayed a decision to impose an embargo on Tehran's oil sector to mid-January.

Analysts say the EU postponed Iran's oil embargo so that in the meantime it could find alternative oil suppliers and weather the 2011 fourth quarter when Europe's oil demand peaks.

Meanwhile, Turkey is a potential market for the export of Iranian crude to Europe. In 2011, Turkey's oil purchase from Iran was 150,000 barrels per day and the daily import is expected to rise to 200,000 barrels in 2012.

The US, Israel and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this allegation as a pretext to convince the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions on Iran.

Tehran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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News Code 181308