On January 23, EU foreign ministers approved sanctions against Iran, including a ban on Iranian oil imports, a freeze on the assets of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) within the bloc's states, and a ban on selling diamonds, gold and other precious metals to Tehran.
Following the move, Tehran summoned the ambassadors of Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal and the Netherlands to protest at the EU's unilateral sanctions against Tehran over its peaceful nuclear program, and warned them that it would soon stop oil exports to these countries if they do not reverse their decision.
The sanctions are scheduled to become fully effective on July 1, 2012, to give EU member states enough time to adjust to new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies.
The bloc was to review the impacts of the Iran oil embargo on the member states on May 1, but postponed the deadline by one month upon a request by Greece, which is facing "difficulty finding alternative suppliers" of oil.
"So far, Greece has come back to us saying that for the time being, they seem to have been able to handle and to keep the situation under control," a senior EU diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
"But precisely because there was this deadline in April they have asked for the possibility to come back to this issue in May or maybe even in June and this has been accepted by all member states," the source added.
Meantime, recent reports have shown that demand is growing for Iranian crude oil in Asian and African markets after the EU's fresh decision.