The European Union definitely will not impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports because the measure would harm the global crude market, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Sunday.
Our policy is sustainable supply of oil to Europe ... Iran is a major oil producer and any sanctions on our oil export will definitely harm the global market, Qasemi told a news conference.
EU leaders called Friday for more sanctions against Iran by the end of January, in an effort to increase pressure on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
Last week, EU foreign ministers agreed to develop new sanctions on Iran's energy, transport, and banking sectors. Diplomats said a ban on imports of Iranian oil into Europe was under discussion.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month released new evidence confirming concerns that Iran is seeking the atom bomb. Tehran contends its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Iranian authorities say the sanctions have had no impact on Iran's economy, and they have defied the U.N. Security Council's demands to halt the country's sensitive nuclear work.
Iran is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' No. 2 oil producer, exporting 2.6 million barrels a day.
We have no problem to find a replacement for the EU oil market, and we can easily replace the European market, Qasemi said.
(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)