Iran has cut all oil exports to Spain only days ahead of a new round of international talks on Tehran's continued uranium enrichment activities. The move comes well before an EU embargo on Iranian crude is enforced.
Iran announced it had stopped oil deliveries to Spain, the country's media outlets Al-Alam and Press TV reported on Tuesday. "Oil exports to Spain have been cut," the Arab-language Al-Alam network confirmed on its website.
Spain relied on Iran for close on 12 percent of its oil imports last year, receiving 160,000 barrels per day, according to the International Energy Agency (IAE).
The halt of crude oil deliveries to Spain and earlier to Greece, Britain and France signals a continuation of Tehran's pre-emptive stoppage of supplies to the European Union. The EU in January agreed on an embargo against Iranian oil as of July and a freeze on the accounts of the Iranian Central Bank in a bid to force Tehran to stop its uranium enrichment program.
Iran in return warned that it would only accept long-term contracts for oil exports or would otherwise continue to cut supplies to individual nations, which were unwilling to play along.
An estimated 18 percent of Iranian oil exports have gone to the EU, in large parts to Italy, Greece and Spain. The main customers, however, are India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
The cutting of oil exports to Spain came ahead of a new round of talks on Saturday between Iran and world powers on Tehran's controversial nuclear program. Western nations have been suspecting Iran of developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that western oil sanctions against his country would have no impact. "The West wants to embargo our oil to weaken us, but it will not succeed," Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday in a televised speech in the southern Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas.
"We have sufficient foreign currency reserves and can do without exporting a single oil barrel for two or even three years", he added.
hg/bk (Reuters, AFP)