Iran warns of consequences of sanctions

2012-01-16 10:46

Tehran - Iran warned Gulf Arab neighbours they would suffer the consequences if they raised oil output to replace Iranian crude facing an international ban.

In signs of Tehran's deepening isolation over its refusal to halt nuclear activity that could yield atomic bombs, China's premier was in Saudi Arabia on Sunday probing for greater access to its huge oil and gas reserves and Britain voiced confidence a once hesitant EU would soon ban oil imports from Iran.

Major importers of Iranian oil were long loath to embargo the lifeblood of Iran's economy because of fears this would send oil prices rocketing at a time - amidst debt and deficit crises and high unemployment - when they could least afford it.

But strong momentum for oil sanctions has been created by a UN watchdog report saying Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb.

Law would make it impossible to buy Iranian oil

A new US law signed by President Barack Obama on New Year's Eve would freeze out of the US financial system any institution dealing with Iran's central bank - which processes its oil revenues.

If fully applied, the law would make it impossible for most countries to buy Iranian oil. Washington is offering waivers to countries to let them keep buying Iranian oil for now, but demanding they gradually cut their imports back.

Leaders from some of the Asian countries that buy the most Iranian oil have begun touring the Middle East to secure alternative supply lines from Arab states. European buyers suggest they will also lean more heavily on Arab oil producers should an EU ban come into effect.

Feeling increasingly encircled, Iran's Islamic clerical elite has lashed back by threatening to block the main Middle East oil shipping route. Since the New Year, Tehran also began to enrich uranium in an underground bunker and sentenced an Iranian-American citizen to death on espionage charges.

Tensions in the Gulf have caused occasional spikes in oil prices in recent weeks. The sanctions are also having a real impact on Iran's domestic economy, causing prices of imported staples to soar and the rial currency to tumble.

Iran holds a parliamentary election in March, its first since a presidential vote in 2009 led to eight months of street protests. Those demonstrations were put down by force, but since then the "Arab Spring" has shown the vulnerability of states in the region to public anger fueled by economic hardship.

Iran warns Gulf Arabs

Iranian Opec Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi said Tehran would regard as an unfriendly act any move by neighbouring Gulf Arab oil exporters to make up for Iranian crude.

"If (they) give the green light to replacing Iran's oil these countries would be the main culprits for whatever happens in the region - including the Strait of Hormuz," Khatibi told the Sharq daily newspaper, referring to the narrow sea channel through which a third of the world's oil tanker traffic passes.

"Our Arab neighbour countries should not cooperate with these (US and European) adventurers... These measures will not be perceived as friendly," he said.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Saturday the world's No 1 oil exporter - the only one in Opec with significant unused capacity - was ready and able to meet any increase in demand. He made no direct reference to sanctions on Iran.

Iran's navy commander Habibollah Sayyari said Tehran could exert control over the Strait of Hormuz.

The US, whose warships patrol the region, says it will not tolerate any attempt to disrupt shipping through the strait.

Military experts say Iran could not challenge the huge US-led fleet that guards the strait for long, but its threats raise the risk of miscalculation that could flare into a clash.

The US and Israel postponed military exercises scheduled to take place in coming weeks to later in the year. Officials in both countries denied the postponement was connected with the increasing tension over Iran.

Iran's foreign ministry said on Sunday it had received a letter from Washington about the Strait of Hormuz and there was no decision yet on whether to reply. A ministry spokesman did not divulge the contents of the letter.

Tehran had said on Saturday it had written to Washington with evidence the CIA was involved in the assassination of a nuclear scientist, blown up by a bomb attached to his car last week, the latest of several such killings.

Western countries suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons capability. Iran says it is only interested in nuclear technology for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

China stepping in

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was pressing Saudi Arabia to open its oil and gas wealth to more Chinese investment, Chinese media said on Sunday. China has been Iran's biggest oil buyer.

Although Beijing opposes further international sanctions on Iran, it has already cut its purchases of Iranian oil by more than half for the first two months of this year.

"China and Saudi Arabia are both in important stages of development and there are broad prospects for enhancing co-operation," Wen told Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef on Saturday, according to Xinhua news agency.

Wen was also scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, two other big Opec exporters across the Gulf from Iran.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday he was "confident" the 27-member European Union would impose resounding sanctions on Iran's oil industry and possibly other sectors at an EU foreign ministers meeting on January 23.

After protracted reluctance to act arising from the dependence of some debt-ridden EU economies on Iranian oil, member states have agreed in principle to ban it and have been working on details of how this will be implemented.

Last year EU countries collectively bought about a fifth of Iranian exports, roughly on par with China.
Any EU-wide prohibition of Iranian oil would probably take effect gradually. "Grace periods" on existing contracts of one to 12 months have been proposed to allow importers to find other suppliers before implementing an embargo.

Hague said: "Our sanctions are part of trying to get Iran to change course and to enter negotiations and we should not be deterred from implementing those. We will continue to intensify our own sanctions and those of the European Union."

  • DiamondDirk - 2012-01-16 11:58

    I can't help but think this is not going to end well.

      madsipho - 2012-01-16 12:09

      Indeed, but with Iran still have nuclear weapon, its no going to be easy for West & US B>)

      brendan.beech - 2012-01-16 12:09

      hear, hear

      Jerhone - 2012-01-16 12:36

      for who?

      Barry - 2012-01-16 13:13

      There is no proof Iran has nuclear weapons. Much like Iraq did not have WMD's.

      GrootWitHaai - 2012-01-16 13:29

      'Iran warns..' is a sure sign that their leaders are on a slippery slope to seeing their virgins in Philistine heaven.

      Dirk - 2012-01-16 13:45

      The US and Israelis will soon realise that there is only one option. The Iranian terrorist government only negotiate things which they do not already have and the civilised world cannot afford to see them acquire nukes. A baby with a live hand grenade, is less dangerous.

      DiamondDirk - 2012-01-16 15:19

      @Jerhone - Does it matter. If nukes starts flying I don't think it will make a difference where you are in the world

      Barry - 2012-01-16 18:28

      North Korea has proven it nuclear weapon capability. Yet the USA and its "middle east friend", Israel, don't want to go to war with North Korea. Why ?

      AntiThesis - 2012-01-17 10:04

      Barry, do you understand the difference between war and sanctions?

      Barry - 2012-01-18 08:01

      @Anti... Yes. THe USA is currently looking forward to going to war with Iran. Not so with North Kroea. It has sanctions. What is your point?

  • mystae - 2012-01-16 12:01

    I have a gut feeling that there will be war in 2012. The whole world seems to be on edge...

      Martin - 2012-01-16 13:14

      F@ck the revolution, bring on the apocalypse!!

      Barry - 2012-01-16 21:11

      Lets all dig a hole and cover ourselves right now !

  • J-Man - 2012-01-16 12:03

    Here we go....

  • AntiThesis - 2012-01-16 12:06

    And so the tension between the extremist Middle-East and the moderate EU and UN continues to grow. Nothing good can come from this. Why would Iran be so defensive if it is not in the process of enriching (weaponizing) uranium? And if they are doing this, what could their intent possibly be?. A fundamentalist Islamic state going nuclear - now there is a diabolical prospect.

      Paco - 2012-01-16 12:25

      remember when the Americans lied to the world about WMD in Iraq and blew the country to pieces,what did they achieve ? Iran does have quite a bit of oil as well...coincidence ???

      AntiThesis - 2012-01-16 12:44

      Anthony, "'The IAEA can confirm that Iran has started the production of uranium enriched up to 20 percent in U-235 using IR-1 centrifuges in the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,' IAEA spokesman Gill Tudor said..." Even Iran confirmed this. Iran also refuses to cooperate with IAEA with regards to their enrichment, which is done at an underground nuclear facility. 20% enrichment is by no means for either medical or energy purposes. So either Iran themselves is lying or something is up....

      Jerhone - 2012-01-16 12:48

      Paco now according to you Americans are getting oil for free and why would a country not allow weapons inspectors in if they were not guilty? that would prevent a war, and who gives them the right to threaten any country? imagine if they do get the bomb what other blackmailing schemes they will come up with to get their way, the sooner they hand over all nuclear material the safer the world would be, imagine South Africa when we were sanctioned threatning our neighbours with atomic destruction we would still have had apartheit

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-01-16 12:06

    There certainly is a lot of hostility towards Iran in the press lately. This is not without reason, of course, as for well over a hundred years the media of democracies have been used to goad the general public to support certain initiatives. Do not be fooled - on paper they like to pretend that they reflect public opinion, but in reality they intend to shape it instead. I would go further into how this is achieved, but that goes beyond the scope of this comment. Articles such as these enjoy presenting Iran as some form of backward little state which is surrounded by noble enemies. What the media's keeping quiet about is that Iran's president recently visited and improved relations with four South American countries, and that their relationships are flourishing. An interesting fact also is that Iran is one of only three countries in the entire world which has a central bank independent from the global banking cartel. If it's one thing these types can't stand, it's exclusion. Make no mistake - there is a concentrated will and motive behind this effort to destroy Iran. Should Iran be toppled, it will only continue the trend of consolidating the power of a few who dictate policy. This will mark the continued centralisation of power for those who have proven themselves irresponsible with it. Iran's destruction would not be a victory for personal freedom, but rather a diminishment thereof.

      BA - 2012-01-16 12:41

      iran is an imperialist state with ambitions to become the major power in the Middle East. It control and directs terrorist organizations, including hizbulla and hamas. It supports the horrific syrian regime. It threatens the genocide of Jews and the country of Israel. It threatens its arab neighbours who do not support it. It conducts mass murders of its own citizens and of muslims of other sects in the region (e.g. in iraq). It is responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths during 2011. It is a bullying, hateful, violent, aggressive regime. I for one pray for the death of ahmadinejad.

      Hrh - 2012-01-16 13:15

      wen will the majority wise up?

      Jaba - 2012-01-16 13:19

      Anthony & NinetiethOwl I’m sure the oppressed people of Iran (opposition, women, other religious groups & gays), and the newly free people of Lybia do not agree with you - whether it be cartels, nuclear or the sugar monster - all these people want is freedom, freedom from religious fundamentalist bent on bringing war to this world.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-01-16 13:39

      Anthony is well versed in our atomic history but wow your 'zeitgeist' economic conspiricy theory is well just bollucks. The change from the gold standard was needed for recovery from the great depression , stability and lower interest rates. Any fluctuations in the gold supply or reserves (which there will be) results in a continually volatile market leading to inability to use monetary policy to deal with crisis and deflation (lack of economic growth). Strange how this system (banking,free-market,democracy) has brought the largest amount of positive impact in the largest number of people wordwide ,people live longer , have more children , better health care , more oppertunities and greater levels of freedom than in any other period of human history.

  • Squeegee - 2012-01-16 12:11

    Iran is heading for trouble. The West is taking the possiblity of them gaining nuclear weapons seriously. Expect more deaths of scientists and sabotage.

  • Gavin - 2012-01-16 12:13

    Will 2012 be the year to end all years, or will be the year we stop the war war rhetoric and start the jaw jaw era ?

  • Deon - 2012-01-16 12:21

    Economic hardships helped SA to change, it could do the same with Iran.

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-01-16 12:22

    There is always something to be grateful for. You could have been an Iranian Nuclear Scientist...

  • Ian - 2012-01-16 12:33

    Honestly, if the USA is allowed to have nuclear warheads (as do China and Russia - amongst others) then why can iran not have nuclear warheads? if the communists can be trusted not to blow the world up, then why can't the religious folk be trusted not to blo.... o!! i see the problem!! flippen crazy zealouts..

      BA - 2012-01-16 12:43

      Immature and unrealistic view of the world. Iran is an aggressive, violent country seeking to extend its influence and power. It control and directs terrorist organizations, including hizbulla and hamas. It supports the horrific syrian regime. It threatens the genocide of Jews and the country of Israel. It threatens its arab neighbours who do not support it. It conducts mass murders of its own citizens and of muslims of other sects in the region (e.g. in iraq). It is responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths during 2011. It is a bullying, hateful, violent, aggressive regime. The US has every right and motivation to seek to limit its powers.

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-01-16 12:45

      Exactly!! LOL

      Newsreader - 2012-01-16 12:47

      Them zealots cant be trusted to do anything. Any person who blows themselves up, or no no tolerance for other religions, force their children to marry without choice, look down upon women, rule with biblical devine and then still want to be on top of world dominance. mmmmmmm I feel we are comparing apples with oranges here, or in this case charcoal.

      Ian - 2012-01-16 13:15

      @BA - And please do tell, who or what gives you the RIGHT to say that Iran is wrong? From an Iranian perspective they probably feel pretty much the same about the rest of the world as you feel about them. - Israel was granted a country in the Middle East because of events in Europe, not very fair on the countries that got kicked out to make space for the Jews. To be clear, I don't condone the creation of more nuclear weapons. And neither do I agree with the Rule of Iran. Neither do I particularly like/dislike Jews. And don't blast me for anti-semantics, the Nazi's were wrong and should be hated for their terminate the Jew campaign. In my original post I'm simply poking fun at a very serious situation. I feel most educated individuals would be able to see the sarcasm and irony of the situation. You Sir, appear to have placed to literal an interpretation on my words. Loosen up, have a laugh and shake your head at the madness in the world. Or else we all might just end up in a situation like the people of Iran, being subjected to an overly-oppressive and controlling government. O wait, Religious-Government. How would you feel if the USA started smashing into RSA (similar to what China is currently doing - I'm pretty sure most of us are upset about that) and telling us what we could and could not do? No, the USA has EVERY RIGHT to defend international shipping lanes, but the HAVE NO RIGHT in telling another government how to run itself or it's country.

      Jaba - 2012-01-16 13:26

      Because they stated that they aim is to wipe out another member state of the United Nations - that’s why. I’m sorry but I cant here any other nations threatening another with annihilation while trying to manufacture nuclear weapons.

      Ian - 2012-01-16 13:41

      @Jaba - Fair, and good point!

      Barry - 2012-01-16 21:14

      @BA. You need to grow up too.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-16 12:36

    I suspect that contrary to their current position, China will take full advantage of any oil embargo to buy oil at a reduced rate from Iran. Any US mutterings would and could be ignored by China as the useless and powerless words that they are, one need to remember that China has already threatened to replace the US Dollar as its international currency which would be a death knell for the US who's currency is not longer worth what it once was, but which maintains artificial value, through stock market manipulation.

  • Charmaine - 2012-01-16 13:18

    Are we preparing for WAR or PEACE?

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-01-16 14:33

      War is peace Freedom is slavery and Ignorance is strength

  • Nabeel - 2012-01-16 14:14

    somebody like saddam needs to come along and prove the americans right by nukeing the hell of out the white house, the pentagon, and capital hill.

      AntiThesis - 2012-01-16 14:25

      Why would you want such a thing?

      Warren Mudge - 2012-01-16 14:39

      and the consequences of that will be what you knucklehead? Do you wish for all out nuclear war and the possible death of all your loved ones. I am not a huge supporter of the US and some of her foreign policies, but it astounds me as to the amount of outright hatred out there for that nation. But hang on, when they are handing out aid who are first in line demanding it?

  • solethu.matrose - 2012-01-16 14:15

    the only thing that is holding US from invading IRAN is nuclear if Iran reveal that it does not Have nuclear weapons it wnt take US 30minute to invade it so iran should hold on through though time the sanctions will pass sooner or later

      Jerhone - 2012-01-16 14:40

      to solethu comatose the thing holding the USA back is Iran's relationship with Moscow and Beijing, you can't play bluff with a superpower, and as for sanctions i'm surprised you don't know that is what brought down the apartheid regime,so that you can enjoy your freedom today or do you also share the delusional idea the the ANC gave you your freedom?

  • Julius - 2012-01-16 20:49

    Where's Harry Truman when you need him ?

      Barry - 2012-01-16 21:13

      Dead ?

  • jorg.gurtler - 2012-01-27 07:47

    it has been written,in one of Nostradamus's quatrains, that those nukes you guys think aren't there....will be carried into major US cities, small enough to fit on their backs in a backpack,and detonated...if we don't rid the world of IRAN,and extremism it will destroy all of us .

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