Iran threatens to stop imports from South Korea over oil halt
updated 4:28 AM EDT, Wed June 27, 2012
South Korea is the first major consumer of Iranian oil in Asia to suspend all imports.
- South Korea is the first major Asian consumer of Iranian oil to stop imports
- Seoul's decision follows an insurance ban by the EU on tankers carrying Iran's crude
- Tehran says it may respond by deciding to "fully stop importing Korean goods"
- Western powers are using sanctions to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- Iran threatened Wednesday to halt all imports of goods from South Korea in response to Seoul's announcement a day earlier that it would stop accepting Iranian oil.
South Korea said Tuesday that it would suspend all Iranian oil imports from the start of July in response to a European Union insurance ban on tankers carrying crude from Iran.
The Iranian ambassador to South Korea, Ahmad Masumifar, responded by saying in an interview with the South Korean news agency Yonhap on Wednesday that Tehran "may decide to fully stop importing Korean goods."
Reached by telephone, an official at the press office of the Iranian Embassy in Seoul confirmed Masumifar had made the comments to Yonnhap but declined to elaborate further.
The EU and United States have been widening sanctions against Iran recently to put pressure on Tehran to curtail its nuclear program.
Western powers say they believe the program is intended to build nuclear weapons, but Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes.
Iran hopes to sell oil on black market
Concerns grow over high oil prices
Diversifying away from Iranian oil
South Korea is the first major consumer of Iranian oil in Asia to suspend all imports. In 2010, it was the fourth biggest importer of Iranian oil, according to an official from the South Korean Knowledge Economy Ministry. Figures for 2011 aren't yet available, the official said.
Iran's other big oil customers in the region are Japan, China and India -- none of which have announced plans to stop receiving shipments.
The Knowledge Economy Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it relies heavily on European companies for insurance of its oil imports and has sent representatives to the EU to make the case for continuing insurance coverage.
"The government has been putting contingency plans in place in case Iranian oil imports would be stopped," the statement said. Alternative supplies are being sourced from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait.
South Korea already lowered its Iranian oil imports by 44% between January and May -- from 7 million barrels to 3.9 million barrels -- to try to lessen its dependence on them, according to government figures.
CNN's K.J. Kwon contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
Iran: Mounting tensions
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
Two months ago, Emad Ghavidel turned on the television in Tehran and saw graphic footage of an injured Syrian child crying out in pain.
updated 9:38 AM EST, Fri March 9, 2012
Iran's biggest customers are responding to increasing pressure to cut imports from Tehran.
updated 5:44 PM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Faced with mounting pressure from world powers over its controversial nuclear program, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA says this country "is ready to re-engage with (the) IAEA."
updated 4:52 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Republican presidential hopefuls and U.S. President Barack Obama trade barbs over Iran.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Fri March 9, 2012
Why is the international community suspicious of Iran's nuclear program? CNN's Hala Gorani reports.
updated 5:05 PM EST, Fri March 9, 2012
President Barack Obama's rebuke of Republicans who are "beating the drums of war" for military action against Iran should also be directed at Israel, Asher Kaufman says.
updated 12:51 PM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Opinion: The only way war with Iran may be avoided is if the country believes an attack from the West is a real possibility, Frida Ghitis says.
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Mon March 19, 2012
Iran's controversial nuclear program began more than 50 years ago with aid from the West.
updated 11:39 AM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Recent remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama that he is not thinking of military action against Iran are positive, according to Iran's supreme leader, Iran's state-run Press TV reported.
updated 5:31 PM EST, Mon March 5, 2012
CNN's Matthew Chance reports U.N. inspectors have "credible information" that Iran may be developing a nuclear device.
updated 2:31 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
LZ Granderson looks at the effect of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his nuclear weapons "game."
updated 11:22 AM EST, Fri March 9, 2012
A threatened Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program carries enormous risks for the Jewish state, including international isolation, retaliation at home and abroad, and steep economic costs.
updated 3:36 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Erin Burnett breaks down the mixed messages between Israel and the U.S. on Iran.
updated 1:34 PM EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Israeli President Shimon Peres discusses his concerns about Iran.