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29 January 2012 - 23:36

Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi says the Islamic Republic will soon stop crude oil exports to certain countries in the wake of the European Union's decision to ban imports of oil from Iran.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran on Sunday, Qasemi said less than 20 percent of Iran's crude oil is currently being exported to Europe and that Iran has no problem in selling its oil to a market other than the EU.

Managing Director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Ahmad Qalebani said Sunday crude oil prices could reach USD150 a barrel in the aftermath of the EU sanctions on Iran's oil exports.

He said global economic and business blocs will experience tremendous shocks because of the embargo on Tehran and the West will suffer the most from the measure.

Meanwhile, Majlis is due to debate a bill this week that would cut off oil supplies to the EU in a matter of days, in response to the 27-member bloc's decision to stop importing crude oil from Iran as of July.

European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban oil imports from Iran on January 23 and to freeze the assets of the Iranian Central Bank across the EU.

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

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said the sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to return to talks over the nuclear program.

The embargo followed an earlier announcement by Ashton, who said the P5+1 group -- comprising the US, the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany -- was ready to resume nuclear talks with Iran.

Russian foreign ministry described the Iranian oil embargo as a "deeply mistaken" move, which would not encourage Tehran to return to the negotiating table.
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News ID 181437