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27 January 2012 - 22:01

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says the European Union's decision to impose an oil embargo on Iran is “less than meets the eye,” stressing Iranians “do have contingency plans.”

“I think there is less than meets the eye - what happens immediately is that there is prohibition on new contracts on oil to be delivered from Iran - but existing contracts will continue to be honored through July,” Bolton said.

He dismissed new sanctions against Iran's oil as misleading as it will be up to each individual nation whether to comply with the edict.

“Countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain - that rely heavily on imports from Iran - may be able to find ways around it,” he stated.

“You can bet the Iranians are working on that - they've known this for 10 years that this kind of sanction was possible, and they do have contingency plans. So I'll be surprised if it has that much impact,” the former US diplomat explained.

He pointed to Europe's sinking economy and noted that Iran could benefit from Europe being “mired in an economic quagmire.”

“The Iranians have another card to play here and that is obviously the weak economic conditions in some of those European countries, particularly those heavily dependent on their oil, hoping that if the risk of the recovery in Europe is made clear that they will find additional loopholes for that oil. I think that is possible too,” Bolton said.

He urged “comprehensive and strict” restrictions against Iran in order to be effective, saying countries like China, Russia and Venezuela are prepared to help Iran evade the sanctions.

“India is a major buyer of Iranian oil, and they say they are not going to honor anybody's sanctions unless decided by the Security Council, which Russia and China will block,” Bolton concluded.

EU foreign ministers reached an agreement on January 23 to impose an immediate ban on oil imports from Iran over the country's nuclear program as of July 1.

The 27-member bloc agreed to ban oil imports as well as petroleum products from the major OPEC member state and freeze the assets of the Central Bank of Iran across the EU.

The EU also imposed a ban on the sale of diamonds, gold and other precious metals to Iran.

Following the EU's move, Iranian lawmakers announced that the Majlis (Parliament) will discuss the subject of putting a halt to the sale of Iran's oil to European countries.
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News Code 181428