NICOSIA, Cyprus – The European Union's embargo on Iranian oil sales is "on the wrong track" and won't help end a dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, Iran's foreign minister declared Tuesday, warning the EU to avoid actions that may jeopardize fuel supplies to its crisis-hit nations.
Minister Ali Akbar Salehi appealed to the EU to rethink the embargo with "more rationality and wisdom," saying it contributes nothing to negotiations aimed at ending Iran's uranium enrichment program, which the West suspects is being used to build nuclear weapons. Iran vehemently denies the charge.
"We see no point in moving in the wrong direction because that wouldn't benefit either side," Salehi told reporters during an official visit to the divided eastern Mediterranean island.
Salehi said the embargo against Europe's "reliable partner" in oil comes at an inopportune time for a bloc facing its own financial crisis.
"To look for a reliable partner for energy, which is a lifeline for any country, is an important issue to note," he said. "We are already supplying energy to Greece to Spain, to Italy, and they have always enjoyed very good relationships with us and we see no point as to why we should hamper that relationship."
Iran's foreign ministry warned earlier Tuesday the EU embargo will have a "negative impact" on Tehran's negotiations with world powers on its nuclear program. The latest round of negotiations in Moscow between Iran and the five Security Council members and Germany ended in failure, but Salehi said the dispute can eventually be resolved.
"(Negotiations) may stall sometime, the process may not go as easy as everybody would like to see, but since they're in the right direction, and both sides would like to see the resolution of the issue, so I see light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "I think sanctions will serve no purpose in this regard."
The EU sanctions were imposed earlier this year over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment — a possible pathway to nuclear weapons. The sanctions take effect on Sunday.
Iran is already under four sets of U.N. sanctions and measures levied by the United States and tried unsuccessfully to use the Moscow talks to get the sanctions eased.