Iran's oil minister on Tuesday criticized Greece and Italy for not buying its oil despite U.S. waivers exempting them from sanctions and said they had not offered Tehran any explanation for their decision.
In a news conference Bijan Zanganeh also had sharp words for neighboring Iraq, which buys large quantities of Iranian natural gas for generating electricity. He said that Baghdad continues to buy $200 million of gas from Iran but has stopped paying since U.S. sanctions came into effect.
The United States granted Greece and Italy exemptions along with six others - Turkey, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - allowing them to temporarily continue buying Iranian oil as Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran's banking and energy sectors.
"No European country is buying oil from Iran except Turkey," Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by Iranian agencies.
"Greece and Italy have been granted exemptions by America, but they don't buy Iranian oil and they don't answer our questions," he said.
Regarding Iraq, Zanganeh also complained that contrary to previous agreements , Baghdad is not responding to Iranian requests for talks on joint development of oil fields. He asked if Iraq would take the risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, even if itself faces no sanctions.
Zanganeh said the U.S. sanctions on Iran were more difficult than the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, but said Tehran will not allow the United States to reduce its oil exports to zero.