Iran's Azadegan oil field in southwest of Tehran, Iran. (AP/Vahid Salema)
Iran has stored up imported goods and hard currency for a
"battle" against EU sanctions targeting the country's vital oil
sector that went into effect Sunday, officials said. They acknowledged though
that the measures, which aim at pressuring the Islamic Republic over its
nuclear program, may cause economic disruptions.
Mohammad Reza Rahimi said the country has stockpiled necessities to reduce the
impact of the embargo hitting the oil and banking sectors.
are facing the heaviest of sanctions and we ask people to help officials in
this battle," Rahimi was quoted by state television's website as saying at
a religious conference. He said the "dastardly sanctions" might cause
"occasional confusion" in the market, but that the Iranian nation
would not be stopped.
governor Mahmoud Bahmani also told the semiofficial Mehr news agency that Iran has
"plans" to deal with the embargo and enough hard currency to meet its
The EU said
earlier this week that all contracts for importing Iranian oil will have to be
terminated from Sunday. Also, European companies will no longer be involved in
insuring Iranian oil.
come on top of previous sanctions levied by the US
and the West that have already hit Iran's economy. US officials say the American
sanctions have cut exports of Iranian crude from about 2.5 million barrels a
day last year to between 1.2 and 1.8 million barrels now.
not remained passive. To confront the sanctions, we have plans in
progress," said Bahmani. He did not elaborate on the plans.
Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi meanwhile ordered his staff to
"mobilize" against "illegal sanctions," Mehr said. It did
not say what the measures were.
Ghasemi told state television that Iran has weathered previous rounds
of sanctions. "I do not see it as a problem that enemies have imposed an
embargo today," he said. "They have imposed similar sanctions years
ago, and nothing happened."
He said Iran has
already stopped selling oil to many EU countries and sold to others instead.
"Developing countries and countries with fast economic growth have no
alternative to oil. Fortunately, because of the quality of our country's oil,
all are interest in using it."
its own analysis listing measures that Iran could take to counter the
sanctions, including shutting the vital Strait of Hormuz off its southern coast
that handles a fifth of the world's oil supply — a threat that has repeatedly
been made by Iranian officials in the past. The semiofficial news agency's
editorials sometimes reflect views held by top Iranian officials who do not
wish to state them publicly.
however, Iran's Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi made statements to the
official IRNA news agency about the Strait in which he did not mention any
plans to close it — remarks that suggest that Iran is playing down the threat
in dealings with the West.
Vahidi said Iran is the main protector of the waterway, and
"has confronted anybody who tried to endanger the Strait."
suggested that Iran
could make use of hard currencies other than the US dollar and the euro, form
its own insurance syndicate to replace foreign companies that withdraw from the
market, store up oil in tanks for later sale so as not to cut production, or
simply reduce oil production to save its reserves for the future.
The US and EU
measures are intended to pressure Iran over fears that it is
developing nuclear weapons.
Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at peaceful
purposes like power generation and cancer treatment. (nvn)