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Iran slams EU oil embargo, warns could hit US

(Xinhua)

11:41, January 24, 2012

TEHRAN/BRUSSELS - Iran accused Europeans on Monday of waging "psychological warfare" after the EU banned imports of Iranian oil, joining the United States in new sanctions aimed at preventing Tehran from getting nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic, which denies trying to build an atom bomb, scoffed at efforts to choke its oil exports, as Asia lines up to buy what Europe scorns. Some Iranians also renewed threats to stop Arab oil from leaving the Gulf and warned they might strike US targets worldwide if Washington used force to break any Iranian blockade of a strategically vital shipping route.

Yet in three decades of confrontation between Tehran and the West, bellicose rhetoric and the undependable armoury of sanctions have become so familiar that the benchmark Brent crude oil price edged less than 0.5 percent higher, and some of that was due to unrelated currency factors.

"If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told Fars news agency a day after US, French and British warships sailed back into the Gulf.

"If America seeks adventures after the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will make the world unsafe for Americans in the shortest possible time," Kossari added, referring to an earlier US pledge to use its fleet to keep the passage open.

The United States, which imposed its own sanctions against Iran's oil trade and central bank on Dec. 31, welcomed the EU move, as did Israel. It has warned it might attack Iran if sanctions do not deflect Tehran from a course that some analysts argue could potentially give Iran a nuclear bomb next year.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner: "This new, concerted pressure will sharpen the choice for Iran's leaders and increase their cost of defiance of basic international obligations."

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