An oil refinery quay in the Lavan island.
An oil refinery quay in the Lavan island. Iranian lawmakers went into a near month-long recess without taking any action on a threat to impose a pre-emptive oil embargo on European Union countries. © Behrouz Mehri - AFP/File
An oil refinery quay in the Lavan island.
AFP
Last updated: February 8, 2012

Iran MPs take no action on EU oil embargo as they go into recess

Iranian lawmakers on Wednesday went into a near month-long recess without taking any action on a threat to impose a pre-emptive oil embargo on European Union countries.

In retaliation to a phased-in EU a ban on Iranian oil imports, Iranian lawmakers have been threatening for more than a week to immediately halt oil exports to Europe to destabilise the fragile economies of several EU states.

The initiative was delayed in late January, soon after being raised.

In their last session on Wednesday before parliamentary elections on March 2, the lawmakers did not present a bill they were working on to stop oil shipments to Europe.

Instead they issued a non-binding statement saying they backed unspecified "retaliatory measures" prepared by the oil and trade ministries, and demanded that "Iran's European customers be replaced with customers from other countries."

The statement, signed by 200 of the 290 lawmakers sitting in the parliament, did not elaborate on what measures had been prepared.

The parliament will hold its next session in just over three weeks' time, on March 4.

Although Iranian officials and lawmakers say the EU ban will not affect Iran's oil exports or its economy, they have repeatedly expressed anger at the sanctions, which are designed to pressure Tehran to halt its disputed nuclear activities.

Western countries allege Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies that, insisting its atomic programme is for civilian purposes only.

On Friday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said Tehran would respond to any sanctions against its oil exports with its "own threats which will be implemented at the right time."

Iran is the second-biggest producer in OPEC, behind Saudi Arabia. It pumps some 3.5 million barrels a day, of which 2.5 million are exported.

Nearly 20 percent of the oil exports go to EU countries, mainly Italy, Spain and Greece. Most of the rest goes to Asia, principally China, India, Japan and South Korea.

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