TEHRAN, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Iran would have no problems with finding non-European customers to buy its crude oil, an executive said in reference to a European oil embargo.
European foreign ministers agreed last week to ban new oil contracts with Iran. Existing contracts are valid until July 1.
Ahmad Qalebani, managing director of the National Iranian Oil Co., said Tehran was ready to cut oil sales to Europe already, the Iranian Oil Ministry's Petroenergy Information Network reported.
Qalebani said Tehran exports only 18 percent of its crude oil to Europe, which he suggested meant it would be the European economy that suffers from the planned embargo. He added that Iran would have "no problem" with finding non-European consumers for its crude oil.
Iran had said it would close key oil shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz in response to Western pressure meant to convince Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Analysts suspect Iran is bluffing, however, given the importance that crude oil sales have on the Iranian economy.
The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries said a poor European economy could drag on the rest of the world in 2012. OPEC had blamed the European debt crisis for volatile oil prices in 2011.