Iran to Stop Oil Sales in Some Countries

Rostam Qasemi, Iran’s oil minister, said the curbs will be implemented soon but did not mention specific countries. The warning comes just days after the European Union (EU) agreed to stop importing Iranian oil from 1 July. The US and EU have been trying to target Iran’s oil exports as part of sanctions against it.

The EU agreed to stop importing all oil from Iran on 23 January. However, the embargo is scheduled to come into place only on 1 July, so that member states have enough time to find alternate sources of supply. Analysts said that if Iran stopped selling oil to some EU nations on a short notice, it may create problems for the affected countries. They said that Tehran was using this tactic in a bid to ease pressure on itself.

Oil exports are one of the biggest sources of income for Iran. The US and EU have been trying to curb those in a bid to force Iran to agree to stop its nuclear programme. The EU currently buys about 20% of Iran’s oil exports. However, Iran’s oil minister said that a cut in exports to the region will not hurt Tehran. The biggest market for Iran’s exports is Asia, with China, India, Japan and South Korea currently the biggest buyers of oil.

China, the biggest buyer of Iranian oil, is also unlikely to cut supplies, given the country’s growing demand for energy.


Source: BBC News

Image: Top News

U.S. Carrier Passes Through Gulf Without Incident Despite Threats

Flanked by British and French ships as backup, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier moved through the Strait of Hormuz without incident Sunday despite recent threats from Iran.

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement that the Lincoln “completed a regular and routine transit of the strait … to conduct maritime security operations.” The Lincoln is in the region with the USS Carl Vinson, giving the U.S. Navy its standard two-carrier presence there.

Several weeks ago, as the USS John Stennis left the Persian Gulf and headed back to the western Pacific, Iranian officials warned the United States not to send in another carrier. Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the only outlet to and from the Persian Gulf between Iran and the United Arab Emirates as well as Oman, as Iran faces increased scrutiny over its nuclear program and possible sanctions on its oil exports. The critical shipping lane had 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has responded by threatening to “respond” if Iran attempts to shut down traffic. He said that the U.S. naval and military presence in the region will not change and the current level is sufficient to deal with any situation that could arise.


Source: CNN

Image: The Telegraph