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12 January 2012 - 22:59

A senior South Korean official says imposing sanctions against Iran's oil exports will affect South Korea's economy as Seoul is in great need of Iranian crude.

“We import 10 percent of the oil from Iran so it will be some impact,” South Korea's Deputy Finance Minister Shin Je Yoon said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Thursday.

Shin said South Korea's economy depends on crude imports from Iran and Seoul needs to diversify its oil suppliers before considering more sanctions.

“I think 10 percent is not a small number,” he said, adding that “it's important to diversify the import destinations.”

According to the figures released by Seoul's government last week, Iran is South Korea's fifth-largest supplier of crude and accounts for 9.4 percent of its total imports in 2011.

South Korea has announced it would reinforce diplomatic efforts to minimize a reduction of crude purchases from Iran.

Seoul has already been facing economic problems with the Bank of Korea forecasting that the country's economic growth will slow to 3.7 percent in 2012 from 3.8 percent in 2011.

The US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is currently on a tour in Asia to convince Asian buyers of Iran's crude to join proposed sanctions against the country's oil exports.

While India and China have so far refused to restrict trade ties to Iran, Japan has taken a more cautious approach announcing on Thursday that it “may cut” oil import from Iran.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Moscow opposes US and European oil sanctions against Iran, even if Tehran presses ahead with its nuclear program.
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