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Iran Suspends Shipments of Oil to Britain and France

New York Times – PARIS – Sub Feb 19, 2012 – Iran’s government ordered a halt to oil exports to Britain and France on Sunday, in what may be only an initial response to the European Union decision to cut off Iranian oil imports and freeze central bank assets beginning in July.

Britain and France depend little on Iranian oil, however, so their targeting may be a mostly symbolic act, a function of the strong positions Paris and London have taken in trying to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment and bring pressure to bear on Syria, one of Tehran’s closest allies.

TEHRAN | Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:32pm EST

(Reuters) – Iran has stopped selling crude to British and French companies, the oil ministry said on Sunday, in a retaliatory measure against fresh EU sanctions on the Islamic state’s lifeblood, oil.

“Exporting crude to British and French companies has been stopped … we will sell our oil to new customers,” spokesman Alireza Nikzad was quoted as saying by the Ministry of Petroleum website.

The European Union in January decided to stop importing crude from Iran from July 1 over its disputed nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at building bombs. Iran denies this.

Iran’s oil minister said on February 4 that the Islamic state would cut its oil exports to “some” European countries.

The European Commission said last week that the bloc would not be short of oil if Iran stopped crude exports, as they have enough in stock to meet their needs for around 120 days.

Read more: Iran Warns 6 Countries in Europe It Will Cut Off Oil

Published: February 15, 2012

Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency said the threat was conveyed to the ambassadors of Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Greece and Portugal in separate meetings at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran. Officials said in an earlier report by Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite broadcaster, that Iran had already cut supplies to the six countries was inaccurate — but not before word of the Press TV report sent a brief shudder through the global oil market, sending prices up slightly.

“Iran warns Europe it will find other customers for its oil,” the Islamic Republic News Agency said. “European people should know that if Iran changes destinations of the oil it gives to them, the responsibility will rest with the European governments themselves.”

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