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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Iran considering pre-emptive ban of oil exports to EU; China blasts sanctions

From Al Arabiya:
Many Iranian lawmakers and officials have called for an immediate ban on oil exports to the European bloc before its ban fully goes into effect in July, arguing that the 27 EU nations account for only about 18 percent of Iran’s overall oil sales and would be hurt more by the decision than Iran.

“The bill requires the government to stop selling oil to Europe before the start of European Union oil embargo against Iran,” lawmaker Hasan Ghafourifard told the parliament’s website, icana.ir. Debate on the bill is to begin on Sunday, he said.
18% is pretty high, actually, certainly enough to make a noticeable dent in the Iranian economy.

Meanwhile, China blasts the planned embargo:
China said Thursday EU sanctions on Iran announced earlier this week in response to Tehran’s suspected nuclear drive were “not constructive,” state media reported.

“To blindly pressure and impose sanctions on Iran are not constructive approaches,” the foreign ministry was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency, in response to a question on the EU measures announced Monday.

China ̶ a key ally of Iran and its top trading partner ̶ has consistently opposed the use of sanctions, and advocates resolving disputes through “dialogue and consultation” instead.

Beijing’s economic ties with Tehran have expanded in recent years, partly thanks to the withdrawal of Western companies in line with sanctions against the Islamic republic over its nuclear drive.

The Asian powerhouse also depends a lot on Iranian oil, and has strengthened its presence in the country’s oil and gas sector by signing a series of contracts worth up to $40 billion in the past few years.
"Dialogue and consultation?"

But this does bring up the question that if China is increasing its dependence on Iranian oil, could this eventually translate into military cooperation with Iran as well? while China has sold weapons and technology (and even perhaps chemical weapons technology) to Iran's military, as far as I can tell it has not allied with Iran militarily. Could this be an unforeseen consequence of Western sanctions on Iran?

Geopolitics is like a three-dimensional chess game where half the pieces are invisible and sometimes they move for no apparent reason.