By Al Arabiya with Agencies
A European Union embargo on Iranian oil went into effect on Sunday, provoking anger in Tehran which says the measure will hurt talks with world powers over its sensitive nuclear activities.
Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi sought to downplay the embargo as just the latest punishment in decades of ineffective sanctions.
Iranian leaders have insisted they will forge ahead with their atomic program, regardless of the Western restrictions and others imposed by the U.N. Security Council.
Oil market observer bodies and analysts say the embargo, coupled with U.S. financial sanctions ramped up on Thursday, are gutting Iran’s vital oil exports, which account for half of government revenues.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says Iran crude exports in May appear to have slipped to 1.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) as the market braced for the embargo, which has been phased in since being announced January 23.
That is far less than the 2.1-2.2 mbpd Iran insists it continues to sell abroad.