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Iran Parliament delays oil cutoff vote
by Staff Writers
Tehran (UPI) Jan 30, 2012

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Iran's Parliament has delayed an "emergency" vote on immediately cutting off oil supplies to the European Union as a team of nuclear inspectors arrived.

The Iranian Majlis prepared a draft of a "double emergency" bill cutting off oil exports to the European Union Saturday, retaliating against EU sanctions aimed at Tehran's nuclear program.

As an emergency measure, the draft bill was readied to be fast-tracked through the Majlis. But Iranian energy commission spokesman Emad Hosseini told the semi-official Mehr News Agency Sunday the bill had been pushed back as a high-level delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Iran.

The legislation is just an "idea by lawmakers" that still had to be studied by the energy commission he said, adding, "No bill has been designed nor has it come to Parliament."

Instead, Hosseini said, a vote on the measure has been delayed until Friday, after the IAEA has wrapped up its visit.

The move in the Majlis came in response to the EU's Jan. 23 decision to boycott Iranian oil beginning July 1. That decision was taken in concert with the United States as a way to increase pressure on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran has claimed repeatedly the program is meant for civilian purposes only but Western leaders say evidence points to Tehran laying the groundwork to build an atomic weapon.

EU officials waited until July to enforce the sanctions to give European consumers of Iranian oil time to line up replacements and to avoid sudden spikes in the price of oil. But Iranian lawmakers responded quickly over the weekend, proposing a unilateral boycott of European countries.

The draft law has four parts, including one which states "the Islamic Republic of Iran will cut all oil exports to the European states until they end their oil sanctions against the country," Nasser Soudani, vice chairman of the parliament's energy commission, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Another article demands that the government stop imports of all goods from countries taking part in the oil sanctions against Iran, he said.

Moayed Hosseini Sadr, another member of the Parliament's energy commission, told Fars the quick action will hurt Europe in the pocketbook.

"If Iran's oil exports to Europe, which is about 18 percent (of Iran's total oil exports) come to a halt, the Europeans will surely be taken by surprise and will understand the power of Iran and will realize that the Islamic establishment will not succumb to the Europeans' policies," he said.

Iran's oil ministry said last week it isn't worried about the effects of the European oil embargo because only 18 percent of its exports go to Europe, claiming the action will only harm the continent's efforts to revive its lagging economy.

But the action was delayed as visit of the IAEA delegation, led by Deputy Director Herman Nackaerts, was greeted with conciliatory words from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Salehi, speaking to Mehr while on a trip to Ethiopia, said Tehran is "very optimistic about the mission and result of the work of this delegation."

He added, "The nuclear issue has taken the right course and our interaction with the agency has been good, and the cooperation has been close and extensive. We have always tried to adopt transparency as one of our principles of cooperation with the agency, and during their visit, the agency's delegation will have some questions that will be answered appropriately."

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S. Korea says it will take time to join Iran sanctions
Seoul (AFP) Jan 30, 2012 - South Korea's finance minister called Monday for more time to diversify oil sources amid pressure on Seoul to join US-led sanctions on Iranian oil over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

Washington has urged its allies to significantly reduce oil imports from Iran in line with a sanctions bill signed by President Barack Obama last month.

Bahk Jae-Wan said negotiations with the US were under way but called for a gradual approach to minimise damage to the economy. South Korea imports nearly 10 percent of its crude from Iran.

"Each nation has different circumstances...so there are many factors to consider...including what to do with existing contracts," he told reporters, describing the current volume of Iranian oil imports as "quite large".

"We are discussing with the US government in the matter of how much is 'significant' and I believe the discussions...will take quite a bit of time," Bahk said.

South Korea is a close ally of the United States and 28,500 US troops are based in the country. But the highly industrialised nation is also the world's fifth largest oil importer.

Bahk said Saudi Arabia this month offered to increase crude supplies to South Korea but cautioned that diversifying sources of oil will take more time and policy coordination.

President Lee Myung-Bak will visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates next week, in a trip to help South Korea "secure a stable supply of energy resources", his office said.

Finance minister Bahk vowed "utmost efforts" to prevent any sanctions from triggering a dramatic surge in oil prices and fuelling inflation -- one of the government's top policy concerns this year.

Seoul in December added more than 100 names to a financial blacklist of Iranian firms and individuals, joining a fresh multinational effort to press Iran to scrap its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

But it did not announce a ban on imports of petrochemicals or crude oil.


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Germany urges restraint after Iran oil stop threat
Berlin (AFP) Jan 29, 2012
Germany Sunday called for restraint from Iran amid an escalation in tensions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme and a threat to immediately cut off oil exports to Europe. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the crisis-wracked European Union would not allow Iran to push it into a corner with a potential cut in oil supplies. "In Iran we are seei ... read more

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