“We are concerned about an impact on global energy prices,” The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed official at the Japanese foreign ministry as saying on Wednesday.
“We are also worried about how a fuel shortage might impact rebuilding” (parts of the country) after the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last March, added the official.
Japan has become the latest country to hint at its intention to ignore the US-led oil sanctions on Iran, following South Korea’s recent rejection of Washington’s bid to boycott Iranian crude.
“We are not considering banning imports,” an official at the Japanese ministry said on January 6.
Japanese officials had earlier expressed their concern over the potentially adverse global economic impact of intensifying US and European pressures on Iran over its nuclear program.
Another official at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also said an embargo on Iranian oil would lead to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, adding that the US must consider the negative impact of such a development on the global economy.
Tokyo’s wariness over any escalation of pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran echoes South Korea’s earlier announcement that it would purchase around 10 percent of its needed crude from Iran in 2012, exceeding Seoul’s oil imports from Iran in 2011.
South Korea, the world’s fifth largest oil importer, has announced plans to purchase 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian crude this year, a little more than the 190,000 bpd in 2011.
On New Year’s Eve, US President Barack Obama signed into law fresh economic sanctions against Iran‘s Central Bank in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution.
The bill is aimed at preventing refiners across the world from paying for Iran’s oil. The European Union is also considering measures that would forbid its member states from importing the crude.
The United States, the Israeli regime, and a number of their allies have accused Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program. Washington and Tel Aviv have repeatedly threatened Tehran with the “option” of a military strike against its atomic facilities.
This is while the Israeli regime is widely known to possess over 200 nuclear warheads, a fact that it has never denied, citing its so-called policy of nuclear ambiguity. Furthermore, Tel Aviv refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspectors and rejects signing into any international nuclear regulatory agreements.
Under pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv, the UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Tehran. The United States and the European Union have also adopted unilateral measures against the Islamic Republic in an effort to deter Western investments in Iran’s energy sector.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the NPT and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has every right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never pointed to any evidence indicating that Tehran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
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