Iranian lawmakers have delayed taking action on a proposed bill to immediately cut oil deliveries to Europe in retaliation for an EU oil embargo.
The news came soon after Germany's foreign minister had accused Tehran of "a dangerous escalation in rhetoric" as the long-running diplomatic and economic dispute continues over Iran's nuclear program.
Iran's parliamentary energy commission spokesman, Emad Hosseini, said no proposed legislation had come to the parliament floor despite earlier reports suggesting the debate was imminent.
But Hosseini said there was no bill yet, just "an idea by lawmakers" that must be studied by the energy commission. He said he hoped negotiations on preparing the bill would be finalized before February 3.
Lawmakers had been expected to enter the bill into parliament on January 29, after calling for it to be drafted under "double emergency" procedures.
The proposed text aims to immediately halt oil exports to Europe in a bid to destabilize the fragile economies of several EU states.
An EU embargo against imports of Iranian oil -- which is aimed at persuading Tehran to abandon sensitive nuclear activities that many in the West think are aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capacity -- goes into effect on July 1.
The Iranian lawmakers' possible reprisal appears aimed at denying shakier European economies the six-month transition period envisaged by the EU for finding alternative sources and delivering a blow to countries that have prepaid for Iranian oil but might find buyback terms difficult under fresh economic sanctions targeting Tehran.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned earlier on January 29 that the EU would not allow Tehran to push it into a corner with the tactic talked about by the Iranian lawmakers.
Westerwelle called the threat "a regrettable and dangerous escalation in rhetoric," saying the EU would find ways "to compensate for delivery stoppages."
UN nuclear inspectors are in Iran for a visit aimed at clearing up disputed areas of Iran's nuclear program, which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently accused of hiding activities "specific to making weapons."
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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