Iran: New EU sanctions 'psychological warfare'

Tehran warns sanctions against oil industry, central bank will worsen standoff over Islamic Republic's nuclear program; officials renew threat to close Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian submarine in Strait of Hormuz 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Iranian submarine in Strait of Hormuz 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
TEHRAN - Iran on Monday rejected new sanctions imposed by the European Union on its oil as "psychological warfare", saying they would worsen the stand-off over the Islamic state's nuclear program.
The European Union banned imports of oil from Iran on Monday and agreed to freeze the assets of Iran's central bank, joining the United States in a new round of measures aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear development program.
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"European Union sanctions on Iranian oil is psychological warfare ... Imposing economic sanctions is illogical and unfair but will not stop our nation from obtaining its rights," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by state television, referring to Iran's nuclear energy ambitions.
The latest sanction by the European Union will be fully enforced by July 1, part of a potentially crushing range of measures against Iran's lifeblood oil industry that the West hopes will force Tehran to curb its nuclear activity.
Also on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the official news agency IRNA that the more sanctions were imposed on Tehran over its uranium enrichment work, "the more obstacles there will be to solve the issue".
The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to tighten sanctions on Iran, which it accuses of seeking nuclear weapons capability behind the facade of a declared civilian atomic energy program, a charge Tehran denies.
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Washington and Israel do not rule out military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy fails.
"The European countries and those who are under American pressure should think about their own interests. Any country that deprives itself of Iran's energy market will soon see that it has been replaced by others," Mehmanparast added.
Along with US sanctions imposed by Obama on Dec. 31, the Western powers hope that throttling Iranian exports and hence revenue can force Iran's leaders to agree to nuclear controls and greater transparency.
A member of Iran's influential Assembly of Experts, former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, said Tehran should respond to the delayed-action EU sanctions by stopping sales to the bloc immediately, denying the Europeans time to arrange alternative supplies and damaging their economies with higher oil prices.
"The best way is to stop exporting oil ourselves before the end of this six months and before the implementation of the plan," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
He also reiterated that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel between the Gulf and open sea through which a third of all oil tanker traffic passes to importers around the world.