Iran: EU Oil Ban Could Lead to Iranian Reprisals
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton gives a press conference after the EU slapped an embargo on Iran's oil exports as part of a package of tough new sanctions aimed at blocking funds for Tehran's nuclear weapons program and pressing it to return to talks, January 23, 2012. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)
January 24, 2012
| Security, Energy
| Europe, Middle East and North Africa
The European Union’s decision yesterday to begin a phased ban on the import of Iranian oil is part of a dramatic increase in international pressure that will force Tehran to scramble to address the resulting damage to its economy and will raise regional tensions as well as the possibility of Iranian reprisals.

Responses to the announcement fell along predictable lines. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed the EU decision a step in the right direction. Ali Fallahian, former head of Iranian intelligence, asserted that Iran should stop all sales to Europe immediately. Iran also has warned oil-producing Arab nations about increasing production to compensate for reductions in Iranian shipments. Tehran will seek to increase oil sales to Asia but is not assured of doing so easily. Japan has refused to increase its imports of Iranian oil. China may increase its imports somewhat but its economy is cooling and it has options elsewhere. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran will not be deterred in continuing its nuclear development efforts. 

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