Turkey will not bar Iran oil imports unless sanctions are imposed by the United Nations, an Energy Ministry spokesman told dpa Monday.
"We are not bound by EU or US decisions, so we will only block Iranian oil imports if the UN decides to impose such sanctions on Iran," he said.
Iran is a significant exporter of oil to Turkey, supplying the country's sole oil refiner Tupras, which operates four refineries.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that Turkey would only impose sanctions approved by the UN Security Council and would continue working to facilitate talks between Iran and Western nations concerning Iran's nuclear programme.
According to the most recent figures released by the state statistics institute TUIK, in the first 11 months of 2011 Turkey imported 16.99 million tons of crude, of which 8.35 million tons, or 49 per cent, was imported from Iran.
The Energy Ministry spokesman confirmed that as a private company, Tupras was free to buy crude from any source it chose, but that the company had given an undertaking not to import crude from Iran if the Turkish government opted to impose sanctions.
A spokesman for Tupras declined to comment on the company's crude purchases or on media reports that it had opened talks with Saudi Arabia on the possibility of importing Saudi crude in place of Iranian crude.
European Union foreign ministers decided on January 23 to ban new contracts to import petroleum and petroleum products from Iran and to end existing contracts by July 1.
The ban has been criticized by a number of countries, including Russia, as well as India and China - both significant importers of Iranian crude.