LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A move to ban Iranian oil in the European Union is "absolutely" the right thing to do considering Iran's refusal to budge on its nuclear ambitions, London said.
Existing contracts for the import of Iranian crude oil are valid until July 1 though European ministers agreed Monday to ban all new oil contracts with Iran.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the BBC that the decision was the right one to make given the concerns over Iran's nuclear program.
"It is absolutely right to do this when Iran is continuing to breach United Nations resolutions and refusing to come to meaningful negotiations on its nuclear program," he said.
Catherine Ashton, Europe's foreign policy chief, said the EU decision was a "twin-track" approach meant to add weight to diplomatic efforts aimed at convincing Iran to return to the negotiating table.
Iranian officials were quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying Tehran should stop cooperating with its European customers before the July deadline so the price of oil "soars" for a weak European economy.
The European Union gets about 20 percent of its oil from Iran. Most of Iran's crude oil heads to markets in Asia.
The British broadcaster noted crude oil futures increased swiftly following the EU decision.