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Ahmadinejad Says Iran Does Not Need To Sell Oil To Europe

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that his country does not need to sell its oil to European countries, and warned that sanctions cannot stop Iran's progress.

The European Union on Monday had imposed fresh round of sanctions on Iran's oil exports as well as its central bank, a move aimed to ramp up pressure over the country's disputed nuclear program.

"Sanctions cannot stop Iran's progress," Ahmadinejad said while addressing a group of people in the south-eastern city of Kerman, adding that "we do not need to sell oil to Europe." He also dismissed Western sanctions on Iran's central bank as "efforts in vain."

Playing down the impact of EU sanctions on Iran, he said Iran's total foreign trade was $200 billion, out of which Europe contributed only $24 billion. "In the past, about 90 percent of Iran's trade was with Europeans; but nowadays it is about 10 percent," he was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.

The EU currently purchases nearly 20 percent of Iranian crude exports, with countries such as Greece and Italy most reliant on Iranian oil.
The world's largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia has offered to raise its production to compensate for any shortfall caused by the ban on Iranian oil.

Meanwhile, Iran's Fars news agency claimed that the demand was growing for Iranian crude oil in Asian and African markets after the EU's latest decision to ban oil imports from Iran.

Iran is currently supplying 100 percent of Sri Lanka's oil needs, 51 percent of Turkey, 25 percent of South Africa, 14 percent of Greece, 13 percent of Italy and Spain, 11 percent of India and China and ten percent of Japan and South Korea's oil demands. Statistical figures of Iran's oil exports prove that the U.S. and EU oil embargo against the country has little or no impact on demand for Iran's oil in global markets, the wire service said.

Growing demand for Iran's oil also shows that EU sanctions will leave no results but growth in global oil prices since India, China and South Africa have already demanded an increase in oil imports from Iran.

India's Mangalore Refinery is solely depending on Iranian crude and it has said that the fresh round of sanctions would not affect crude import from Tehran. China has also made it clear last week that, whatever the commercial or political calculations driving ups and downs in its crude orders from Iran, it rejects in principle unilateral U.S. sanctions.

"Iran is also an extremely big oil supplier to China, and we hope that China's oil imports won't be affected, because this is needed for our development," Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhai Jun was quoted as saying by Fars.

Meanwhile, an official of Iran's National Iranian Oil Company denied media reports that Tehran was storing oil on tankers in the Persian Gulf. Crude exports were not disrupted amid mounting international pressure and sanctions, Pirouz Mousavi said, adding that "we do not have even one drop of oil (stored) in the Persian Gulf… Iran's oil exports are taking place according to OPEC policies."

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