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8 Feb, 2012 20:46

Spain pain: ‘Iran oil embargo to backfire on Madrid’

Madrid is becoming concerned at how it is going to compensate for the half of its oil imports which will be lost due to the EU embargo on Iranian oil. The economic crisis is only adding to Spain’s woes.

“Spain is suffering the greatest damage from the embargoes against Iran and has always expressed support for the resumption of talks,” said Pedro Antonio Villena Perez, Spain’s new ambassador to Iran on Tuesday in Tehran, as quoted by Iran’s Press TV.Perez pointed out that Madrid is not among the countries supporting the ban on Iran’s oil and banking sector.Spain, like Greece and Italy, is among the EU's biggest importers of Iranian oil. Under the embargo agreed on January 23, they only have until July 1st to find alternative crude supplies. Madrid imports almost all the oil it consumes for its energy and manufacturing sectors. Before the Libyan political crisis, Iranian oil accounted for some 20 per cent of Spain’s supplies. But this last year this figure has grown to 50 per cent. Sanctions on Iran pose an explicit threat to Spain’s energy, 80 per cent of which comes from oil.“Spain never wanted this embargo. This decision comes externally, through US pressure on the EU. It is not just a question of economy. It calls into question Spain’s autonomy in making foreign policy decisions,” Miguel-Anxo Murado, a Spanish journalist and writer, told RT. Meanwhile, the US and EU sanctions, though complicating Tehran’s international financial transactions, so far have failed to destroy its oil trade. India has increased its oil purchases from Iran, becoming the country’s largest customer last month and compensating for a dip in Chinese deals. According to the Wall Street Journal, overall Iranian crude exports remained mostly unchanged at 2.1 million barrels a day, compared with 2.14 million barrels a day in December. On Friday, the EU announced it had worked out the major mechanism of sanctions against Iran's telecommunications sector. This follows the January go-ahead for freezing the assets of the Iranian Central Bank and banning sales of grain, diamonds, gold and other precious metals to the country. The same sanctions were imposed by the US on New Year's Eve. Western countries, supported by Israel and some other countries, accuses Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program. Iran denies the allegations, saying their nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.