Iran’s state-run oil company is denying that China and Japan had sharply cut imports of Iranian crude, maintaining Tehran’s assertions that economic sanctions imposed by the West were having little effect, AFP reported
Mohsen Qamsari, international affairs director of the National Iranian Oil Co, told the Mehr news agency that exports to China “have not decreased at all” and that “all of the contracts between Japanese refineries and NIOC have been extended until the end of the year.”
He disputed official Chinese data showing imports of Iranian crude had fallen by more than half in March from a year earlier, and rejected reports that Japan may have cut its Iranian oil imports in April by 80 percent. China and Japan are the biggest customers for Iran’s oil, alongside India and the European Union.
While the EU is poised to fully implement an embargo on Iranian oil from July 1, China and India have been publicly resisting joining the Western sanctions. Japan has gone along with them sufficiently to satisfy its chief ally, the United States.
The denials by NIOC about the Asian power-houses came as Iran is preparing for a new round of talks with the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) in Baghdad on May 23 that will focus on the sanctions and Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s officials have been increasingly demanding that the sanctions targeting oil exports be lifted, while insisting that they were ineffective.
Official data from China and Japan, though, showed that their purchases of Iranian oil had dropped.
But Qamsari said “a 54 percent decrease in export of Iranian crude to China is not true,” according to Mehr last week. “On average 500,000 barrels of oil (per day) is exported to China in the current situation,” he said. “Oil exports to Chinese refineries in the current year have not decreased at all,” he was quoted as saying.
On Wednesday, Qamsari told Mehr that exports were also normal with Japan, with all Japanese refinery contracts extended.