White House praises EU embargo on Iranian crude oil imports

The White House on Sunday praised the European Union's (EU) embargo on the importation of Iranian crude oil, raising pressure on Tehran over its nuclear energy program.

"The United States welcomes the European Union’s prohibition of all Iranian crude oil imports and other sanctions on Iran's oil industry, which go into full effect today," said the White House in a statement from the press secretary. 

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The administration called the EU decision "a substantial additional commitment" to "seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program."

"The United States and the European Union are committed to holding Iran accountable for failing to meet its international obligations.  With this decision, our partners in the EU have underscored the seriousness with which the international community views the challenge of Iran’s nuclear ambitions," the statement continued.

The United States and its allies suspect that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons, yet Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful energy production only. 

The White House pushed Iran to "pursue substantive negotiations" with Western powers over their nuclear program.

President Obama is under increasing pressure from many lawmakers to take tougher steps to force Iran to abandon its nuclear efforts. However, the president says that sanctions are harming Iran’s economy and will force Tehran to make real concessions at the negotiating table. 

Thus far, however, despite numerous rounds of talks, Iran has not agreed to stop enriching uranium or pledge to not pursue nuclear weapons.

In its statement, the administration said Iran “must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear activities.”

Another round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey.

But the new embargo could also raise tensions between Iran and the United States and Europe.

Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said on Sunday that they would “battle” against the new EU sanctions, according to an Associated Press report. Tehran says it has stockpiled necessary supplies to blunt the impact of the embargo on its economy.