Iranian oil Ministry announced on Sunday that it had stopped oil exports to British and French companies, while reiterating its readiness to resume the nuclear talks with the world powers.
An Iranian oil refinery [File photo]
"The Oil Ministry has stopped oil sales to British and French companies," Iranian oil ministry spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar said in a statement posted on the website of Energy and Oil Information Network affiliated to the Iranian Oil Ministry.
The statement did not specify the time of the sales cut to the British and French companies.
The announcement came months before the European Union (EU) embargo on Iran's oil takes effect. The Iranian oil minister has earlier announced about the probability of halting oil exports to some EU countries.
The Islamic republic has no problem in selling its crude oil to its customers, Nikzad-Rahbar said, "We have our own oil customers and the replacements for these (British and French) companies have already been considered and we will sell the crude oil to new customers instead of the British and French companies."
Iran exports 2.2 million barrels of oil a day, 18% of which is bound for European markets, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Also on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said at a press conference that the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (G5+1) will be held in Istanbul, Turkey.
He did not mention when the talks will be held. But he said that Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has announced Iran's readiness for the resumption of talks "as soon as possible" in a recent letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The Islamic republic is "ready for the worst scenario" in the face of Western threats, Salehi said, adding that "the West should choose interaction with Iran rather than confrontation" over the country's controversial nuclear program.
"Western countries, as a whole, will amend their policies towards Iran," he said.
Salehi reiterated Tehran's determination to continue its "peaceful" nuclear program, saying that "Since we believe that we are right, we do not have the slightest doubt in pursuing our nuclear program. Therefore, we plan to move ahead with vigor and confidence and we do not take much heed of (the West's) propaganda warfare."
On February 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran had always been ready for the talks over its nuclear issue, but it would not yield to Western pressures to quit its rights.
"We have always been ready for (nuclear) talks within the framework of justice and respect," said the Iranian president, adding that, however, "I clearly announce that if you (Westerners) talk in the language of coercion and disrespect (with Iranians), the Iranian nation will never surrender to you" over its nuclear rights.
"The only way you need to observe is to respect the rights of the Iranian nation and to come to the negotiation table," said Ahmadinejad.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the G5+1 in Istanbul in January 2011 failed to reach any agreement, with Tehran rejecting any notion of suspending enrichment in exchange for trade and technology benefits as called for by several UN Security Council resolutions passed since 2006.