Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 18
By Fatih Karimov - Trend: Iran has said that re-imposing sanction by the European Union on the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) was politically motivated.
Iran's foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the decision was a political move that will harm the nuclear talks between Iran and the West, Iran 's Fars news agency reported on Feb. 18.
She recommended the EU not to take such measures.
On Feb. 12, European Union governments agreed to put NITC, Iran 's biggest tanker firm, back on a list of sanctioned firms.
The EU's second-highest court ruled last July there were no grounds to blacklist the NITC after it contested the designation, but the EU moved to re-impose sanctions on tighter legal grounds.
NITC - a major transporter of Iran 's oil - contested the EU's original blacklisting last year, arguing that the firm is privately owned by Iranian pension funds. It has denied any links with the Iranian government or with the Revolutionary Guards.
A copy of an EU letter to the NITC's lawyers, seen by Reuters, said the EU disagreed with their arguments that the NITC did not provide financial support to the government of Iran and therefore should not be sanctioned.
Regarding the nuclear talks, Afkham said bilateral and multilateral talks with the 5+1 group would be held before March 20.
She emphasized that any probable agreement should be single-stage with all the details clarified.
The talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) group were extended until July 1, 2015 to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
After the sides failed to meet the November 24, 2014 deadline they also extended the Geneva nuclear deal, which was signed in November 2013 to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities.
The US and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies.
Edited by CN