[EUROPE] Iran 'to withdraw European assets'

Iran will withdraw assets from the European Union in response to the tightening of sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari said yesterday.

"We are going to withdraw the money and invest elsewhere," Safari said.

"If you withdraw more than $100 billion, then of course this will bring about a scarcity of money and have an impact on the world economy."

The 27-nation EU agreed new punitive measures on Monday targeting businesses and individuals the West says are linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic programmes.

An Iranian monthly reported earlier this month that the Islamic Republic had withdrawn $75bn in assets from Europe to prevent their being blocked under new sanctions. But Iran's economy minister on Sunday played down the report "as yet not serious".

The new EU measures include a freeze on the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli, and visa bans on senior officials such as Revolutionary Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari, Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and atomic energy chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh.

Safari said that Europeans would lose out as a result of the newly imposed measures.

"We have gas and oil resources everyone wants to buy. Now we are trading mostly with Asian countries," he said.

"Previously our main partners were in Europe - Germany, Italy, France, and also Austria. Now we have other partners."

Source: Gulf Daily News

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