TEHRAN – Iranian lawmakers appeared ready to impose a ban on oil exports to Europe in retaliation for sanctions put in place by the European Union and the United States in January, state media reported Tuesday, quoted by CNN. “Parliament is ready to stop oil exports to Europe,” Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said, according to the Fars News Agency.
Another member of parliament agreed, citing the demands of students who demonstrated on Monday. “Parliament should take a revolutionary action and ban oil sales to Europe,” said Mohammad Javad Karimi Ghodousi.
A military official said the sanctions don’t really matter. “Western sanctions are doomed (to failure) from the very outset and useless, as they are not economical in nature and their essence is official and bureaucratic,” Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of Iran’s Basij force, said.
The sanctions put in place last month are meant to force Iran to provide more information on its nuclear program by shutting off its sale of crude oil, which generates half of Iran’s revenue.
The West believes Tehran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is solely for civilian energy production. Iran exports 2.2 million barrels of oil a day, 18% of which is bound for European markets, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The world consumes about 89 million barrels of oil per day.
Final details of the E.U. sanctions are still being worked out, and it’s expected that they will have a grace period of up to eight months, an EU diplomat told CNN last month.
The grace period will allow European refiners to find new suppliers and Iran to find new buyers. Analysts have said that while the new sanctions are the toughest ever imposed, they still contain many loopholes. Iran is expected to still be able to sell its oil to places like China, India and other Asian countries, but perhaps at a discount of 10% to 15%. About 35% of Iran’s oil exports currently go to China and India.
Western leaders have been walking a fine line with Iran, working to come up with a plan that squeezes the country’s finances yet doesn’t result in a loss of Iranian oil exports, which could send crude and gasoline prices skyrocketing.
BBC accuses Iran of intimidating journalists
Iranian authorities are “intimidating and arresting people who they claim have connections with the BBC Persian service,” the British broadcasting giant said Tuesday. The accusation comes a day after Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said that “a number of people” secretly working for the BBC Persian service had been arrested.
The BBC said that could not be true.
The BBC “Persian language service does not have a presence in Iran. There are no BBC Persian staff members or stringers working inside Iran,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “We strongly condemn any actions against the families and acquaintances of BBC Persian staff,” it said.