World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran dismissed a European Union oil embargo which took effect on Sunday and said it was fully prepared to counter the impact of sanctions with a $150 billion war chest of foreign reserves.
The EU ban on crude imports is part of a push by Western countries aimed at choking Iran's export earnings to try to force it to curb a nuclear programme.
"All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions and we are fully prepared to deal with them," Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in comments on the ministry's website.
Qasemi said Iranian oil was still being sold on international markets and that oil importers would be the big losers if a blockade leads to price rises.
The United States also has sanctions in place, although it has spared all 20 of Iran's major oil buyers from measures against them for dealing in Iranian crude for now.
The European Union banned new contracts for imports of Iranian crude in January, but allowed existing ones to continue until July 1. The embargo also covers transporting Iranian crude or insuring shippers who are carrying it.
Iranians lost jobs
There are signs the embargo is already having an impact on Iran's economy.
Its crude oil exports - which according to EU estimates represent some 80 percent of the government's export revenues and half of its income - have fallen by 40 percent this year. Iran used to export a fifth of its crude to EU countries.
The Iranian rial has fallen sharply and inflation is running at 20 percent. Tens of thousands of Iranians have lost their jobs and trade between Iran and Europe has halved in a year, according to Eurostat data from March.
The governor of Iran's central bank said it had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect itself.
"We are implementing programmes to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies," Mehr news agency quoted Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.
In three rounds of negotiations, Western powers have demanded Tehran halt its high-grade uranium enrichment activities, ship all high-grade uranium out of the country and close down a key enrichment facility.
Iran says its nuclear programme has only peaceful aims, but Western countries and nuclear-armed Israel fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Former finance minister says Russian sovereignity doesn't preclude economic, trade and financial relations with Europe and the US.
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Rosneft, which produces more oil than Iraq or Iran, has asked for 2.5 trillion roubles ($44.07 billion) from the government to help it weather sanctions and refinance its debts.
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The suspension comes as South Korea is struggling to contain its own outbreak of bird flu in birds.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann justified the original sanctions as "a self-defence step", but added: "Our goal cannot be tightening the sanctions."
Both the European Union and United States adopted tighter restrictions on investments in Crimea this week, targeting individuals, Russian Black Sea oil and gas exploration and tourism.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the offer included $1 billion for infrastructure, $490 million for poverty alleviation and $1.6 billion in special loans for China's production capacity export
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Damascus has relied on Tehran to fight its war with drop in oil price affects oil-producing Iran. Syrian traders say Damascus worried about future support
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Norwegian energy company Statoil, which suspended 5 rigs in the last 2 months, granted $610 million for development of its gas fields
Putin earlier announced pipeline project via Bulgaria would be cancelled.
President Vladimir Putin said that Russia needed to take the opportunity to diversify its economy to protect it from external shocks.
Verdi said in a statement that workers at four of those centres had decided to continue their strike until Saturday and employees at the Graben warehouse would strike until Dec. 24.