Australia to follow EU lead in banning Iranian oil

Australian Foreign Minister Rudd says Canberra will "undertake precisely the same parallel actions" as EU on Iran sanctions.

Australian FM Kevin Rudd_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Australian FM Kevin Rudd_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
LONDON - Australia will follow the European Union's lead in banning oil imports and imposing a range of other sanctions on Iran, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday. Rudd said later that Australian imports of Iranian oil were already "negligible."
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"On the question of Iran, let me be absolutely clear (regarding) the actions taken in Brussels yesterday on sanctions by the European Union - we in Australia will undertake precisely the same parallel action for Australia," he told reporters during a visit to London.
On Monday, the EU imposed a ban on Iranian oil imports from July in an effort to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. The EU accounts for about about 20 percent of Iranian oil exports.
EU governments also agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank and to ban all trade in diamonds, gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies.
Rudd said a message needed to be sent to the Iranian government that its behavior was "globally unacceptable".
He said Australian exports to Iran had "declined massively" because of previous rounds of sanctions.
"So this is not a piece of idle philanthropy on the part of Australian foreign policy. This costs, but it is a cost worth paying," he told a news conference after talks between the British and Australian defense and foreign ministers.
Also on Tuesday, Iran's foreign ministry summoned the Danish ambassador to complain about the EU's "illogical decision" to ban imports of Iranian oil, the official IRNA news agency said. Denmark holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member EU.
EU government, trying to protect Europe's economy as it battles to overcome a debt crisis, agreed on Monday to phase in the oil embargo, giving countries with existing contracts with Iran until July 1 to end those deals.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the news conference Britain and other countries would help Greece if it had problems obtaining the oil it needed once the ban on Iranian imports had taken effect.
He said Britain would have preferred a faster timetable for introducing the oil ban but had agreed to the five-month phase-in period partly to help Greece.
"If Greece has further difficulties after that with the purchase of the necessary quantities of oil, of course we and other countries will stand ready to help," he said.