Friday Jan 13, 201207:02 PM GMT
Iran oil ban set to harm Italy's economy
Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:1PM
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Italy has expressed strong opposition to possible EU-imposed embargo on oil imports from Iran as any sanction have negative effects on the already crisis-ridden Italian economy, Press TV reports.

“I don't know how the situation will develop, but a crisis with Iran will bring back those high oil prices of recent years ago,” Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said at a press conference held in Rome on Thursday.

Earlier this month Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti also said he was reluctant to accept the idea of a full embargo on Iran's oil sector.

As the statistics shows Italy relies on the Islamic Republic for almost 14% of its total oil supply.

The EU foreign ministers are expected to hold a meeting later this month on January 23 to discuss the proposed embargo on Iran's oil exports.

So far EU members have failed to reach a final agreement on details such as the exact timing of the sanctions. According to EU diplomats, it may take months before sanctions are actually enforced because certain EU members have asked for a delay to shield their debt-stricken economies.

Greece, which heavily depends on Iranian crude, is pushing for the longest delay while Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany say they need a maximum period of three months.

EU countries buy about 500,000 barrels per day of Iran's oil, making the Union one of the largest markets for Iranian crude.

European measures against Iran's oil industry will complement US sanctions announced on New Year's Eve that aim to make it impossible for most refineries to buy Iranian crude.

On Saturday, December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law fresh economic sanctions against Iran's Central Bank requiring foreign financial firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran's Central Bank and oil sector or with the US financial sector.

Iran's military and civilian officials have threatened that if an oil embargo is actually imposed on the country, Iran will respond by closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz making it impossible for other oil producing countries in the Persian Gulf to export oil as well.

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