. Energy News .

Japan backtracks on Iran oil embargo
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 13, 2012

The Japanese government on Friday began backtracking on its pledge to join Washington's drive to strangle Iranian oil exports as top figures insisted no decision had yet been made.

Just 24 hours after the country's finance minister indicated Tokyo was falling into line with US demands, the premier and his foreign minister both signalled a significant retreat.

The US is trying to ramp up pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, threatening to cut off financial institutions that deal with the country's central bank, so squeezing Tehran's vital oil export business.

China has refused to play ball, but Washington appeared to score a diplomatic victory Thursday when Finance Minister Jun Azumi told visiting US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that Tokyo was planning to cut its imports from Iran.

But on Friday Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba was less than enthusiastic.

"The United States would like to impose sanctions. We believe it is necessary to be extremely circumspect about this matter," Gemba told a news conference with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Tokyo.

"We must look at this extremely carefully and find an intelligent solution. "We as a government are in the process of examining the issue and coming to a common position."

Gemba said that over the last five years Japan had reduced its dependence on Iranian crude, which now made up around a tenth of the country's oil imports.

"We are examining whether there is any advantage in a further reduction. But it is important to know what impact any reduction would have on the price of crude.

"One can imagine there would be negative effects (from this scheme) not just on Japan but on the world economy."

At a separate press conference Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said his finance minister had been speaking in a personal capacity.

"Minister Azumi's comment was to recap what has happened in the past so far, and expressed his personal views on the outlook," Noda told reporters.

"As a government, we wish to engage in more concrete discussions at a working level."

The seeming volte-face came after what appeared to be a coup for Washington when Azumi told Geithner that Japan was on board with the US bid to economically punish Iran for what it and its Western allies say is a weapons programme.

"In the past five years, we have reduced... the amount of oil imported (from Iran)," Azumi said as he stood next to his US counterpart.

"We wish to take planned and concrete steps to further reduce this share, which now stands at 10 percent."

Geithner had come away empty handed from Beijing, which refused to add its economic might to the campaign to isolate Tehran.

India, which buys about $12-billion-worth of oil from Iran a year, also said Thursday it had not told refiners to reduce supplies, while South Korea said it would ask the US to let it not cut imports.

The EU has thrown its hat in with the US and said Wednesday it expected to finalise its sanctions against Tehran by the end of the month.

Iran, which insists its nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, has repeatedly said it will not abandon uranium enrichment despite four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions demanding it desist.

Tehran has threatened to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz if more sanctions are imposed.

On Friday, Juppe said the world could not afford to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons and oil sanctions were a sensible way forward.

"France and her European partners believe Iran's nuclear programme... is a serious violation of its international obligations and is a threat to world peace," he told the news conference.

"It would be a grave error to ignore this."

Azumi insisted Friday that there was "no confusion" and "no inconsistency" within the government, Kyodo reported.

Under Washington's financial measures, foreign firms will have to choose between doing business with the Islamic republic or the United States.

The pressure from Washington and the European Union to boycott Iranian crude comes at a time when Japan must make greater use of fossil fuel power plants after a huge earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear power crisis last March.

The vast majority of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are now shut down, amid public distrust of the technology and calls for increased safety.

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

US warns Iran over blocking oil strait: report
Washington (AFP) Jan 13, 2012 - The United States has used a secret channel to warn Iran's leaders against closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz, saying that doing so would provoke a US response, the New York Times reported.

Iran has threatened to close the narrow and strategic waterway -- a chokepoint for one fifth of the world's traded oil -- in the event of a military strike or the severe tightening of international sanctions.

The New York Times, citing unnamed US officials, said late Thursday that the White House has communicated to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that closing the strait would be a "red line" and provoke a response.

The officials did not provide further details about the covert communication channel, except to say that it was separate from the Swiss government, through which the United States occasionally relays messages to Iran's leaders.

The United States and its allies have stepped up increasingly harsh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear enrichment program, which they have charged is part of a secret drive to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and vowed to retaliate against any strike on its facilities.

Tensions have flared in recent days following the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in a bombing Tehran has blamed on US and Israeli intelligence services. US officials have denied any involvement in the attack.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have announced new naval maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz within the next few weeks, underlining Tehran's threat to close the narrow channel between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

Washington has meanwhile sent a second aircraft carrier to waters just outside the Gulf, and a third is on its way.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Clearing a Potential Road Block to Bisabolane
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jan 13, 2012
The recent discovery that bisabolane, a member of the terpene class of chemical compounds used in fragrances and flavorings, holds high promise as a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel has generated keen interest in the green energy community and the trucking industry. Now a second team of researchers with the U.S Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) has det ... read more

EPA Web tool shows greenhouse gas culprits

China urges global energy cooperation

S. America energy demand drives investment

New FERC Ruling Provides Relief To Besieged Power Grids

Ukraine cuts Gazprom import volumes

Rice's 'quantum critical' theory gets experimental boost

Saudi oil output 'stretched to the limit'

Iran warns Gulf states not to make up for oil ban

Spain's Gamesa wins Chinese wind turbine contract

Mortenson Starts Construction of Rim Rock Wind Project

SA Opposition wind policy threatens $3 billion investment

Natural Power launches WindManager in the US

Here comes the sun

Private investments in renweables jump

Philippines pushes renewable energy

Trina Solar Announces Complete Large Rooftop Solar Solution

Thousands protest against nuclear power in Japan

Japan probes radioactive apartment block

Rio Tinto completes takeover of uranium miner Hathor

Quake hits eastern Japan; nuclear plant stable

US looks ahead after ethanol subsidy expires

Good parents are predictable when it comes to corn

Algae for your fuel tank

Fast Track Alternative Fuel Project

China launches Ziyuan III satellite

Spying on Tiangong

China's space ambitions ally glory with pragmatism

Why The X-37B Is Not Spying On Tiangong

Cut back on soot, methane to slow warming: study

Dramatic Links Found Between Climate Change, Elk, Plants, and Birds

Team finds a better way to gauge the climate costs of land use changes

European mountain vegetation shows effects of warmer climate


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement