Last updated: 14 June, 2012

Iran warns EU will pay a higher cost under oil embargo

Looming EU oil sanctions against Iran will result in a higher cost for Europe, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned on Thursday ahead of the OPEC cartel’s latest output meeting in Vienna.

“Of course we might face some problems, but for sure … the European citizens will pay more costs,” Qasemi told reporters in Vienna, when asked about the sanctions which will apply from July 1.

“We did tell our European friends: do not take that action… The embargo (is) against the development of the oil industry of Iran.”

Venezuela, meanwhile, added that it has written to OPEC secretary general Abdullah El-Badri to ask for OPEC members to discuss the group’s relations with the EU at Thursday’s meeting, in the wake of the Iran sanctions.

“We have sent a communication to the secretary general to have a discussion today on how the relations with the EU” will be affected, Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters.

The pair spoke ahead of the regular output meeting of the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which pumps one third of the world’s oil.

Questioned about whether the EU sanctions would result in reduced output, Qasemi responded: “Our oil exports remain as before. If the exports reduce, it will still not have any negative impact on Iran.

“We do have the second ranking position of reserves in the world … do think the world can ignore this energy?”

The European Union is preparing to impose an oil embargo on Iran on July 1, unless diplomatic talks over its disputed nuclear programme see progress.

Western countries and Israel believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb under cover of its civilian programme but Tehran insists its purpose is merely peaceful.

In recent months, the United States and ally Israel — the sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state in the Middle East — have threatened military strikes against the Islamic Republic if diplomacy fails.