The European Union has dismissed reports that EU sanctions on Iranian oil have been postponed, calling the reports nonsense.
Xinhua reports that Michael Mann, a spokesman for the EU Foreign and Security Policy High Representative, denied media speculation that the EU sanctions on Iranian oil have been delayed for six months, saying no agreement has even been reached on the terms of the sanctions, so they can’t possibly be delayed.
Previously, a number of European diplomats had told the media that a six-month delay had been agreed upon for implementing sanctions against Iran.
The reports indicated that Greece, already grappling with economic crisis and debt, is one of the chief opponents of oil sanctions.
Italy, facing similar economic problems, also resists such a plan.
Both Greece and Italy are Europe’s chief buyers of Iranian crude, and a large part of their energy demand is dependent on Iranian oil imports.
However, Mann maintained that the issue was still under debate, and therefore it was “nonsense” to claim the plan was delayed.
He added that the EU Foreign Minister will have further discussions on sanctions against Iran at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on January 23.
Iran exports 450,000 barrels of oil to Europe each day, which represents 18 percent of its oil exports. Italy, Spain, and Greece, the three most economically embattled European countries, are the main recipients of this oil, consuming 180,000 barrels, 160,000 barrels and 100,000 barrels respectively.
China and India have refused to boycott Iranian oil. Japan had indicated that it supported the U.S. initiative to ban Iranian oil, but it later announced that it needs more time to examine the issue.
Russia has denounced efforts to sanction Iranian oil, accusing the U.S. of trying to bring about a regime change in Iran.