Iran's announcement, delivered via state TV, did not name the six countries, but there are reports that the ambassadors of the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal were summoned this morning to be informed of the decision. Some of those envoys may have already been called home. While not as drastic a move as their threatened closing of the Strait of Hormuz, the implication from the Iranians is that Europe needs their oil more than Iran needs Europe's money.
The state TV of Iran is totally controlled by the government. It is more likely the oil ministry got left out of the loop.
There were already stories from January that these nations were searching for other sources of oil supposedly to give them the ability to boycott Iran, but more likely in anticipation of a war that would interrupt supplies.
There was a red flag warning in December, and the US chaiman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went to Israel, to get them to hold off on attacking until these countries could find other sources of oil.
Israeli leaders held talks with the top U.S. military commander, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, following the postponement of a joint exercise that was to be the biggest ever for the two allies.
The joint military exercise was moved to the second half of 2012 for “a variety of factors” to promote “optimum participation by all units,” Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said last week in an e-mail. “We remain dedicated to this exercise and naturally want it to be as robust and as productive as it can be.”
European Union officials meet Jan. 23 to discuss an oil embargo that may be delayed by six months to give some members time to find alternate supplies, two EU officials said.
If the delay was to give these nations time to find other sources, Israel may take this as meaning there is no longer any reason to wait.
A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group sailed through the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday shadowed by Iranian patrol boats and aircraft.
The maneuvers come more than a month after Iran warned a different carrier - USS John C. Stennis - not to return to the Gulf.
Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping lane, amid rising tensions with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.