Iran "deeply regrets and condemns" a new set of tough European Union sanctions aimed at pressuring Tehran to resume talks on its controversial nuclear programme, a foreign ministry spokesman said. "These sanctions will not help in resuming talks and will not affect Iran's determination to defend its legitimate right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme," Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.
He said they would "not help in advancing the talks". The EU's new sanctions on Iran's key oil and gas industry are aimed at reviving stalled talks between Tehran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US. The punitive measures include a ban on the sale of equipment, technology and services to Iran's energy sector, hitting activities in refining, liquefied natural gas, exploration and production, EU diplomats said.
New investments in the energy sector are also banned. Iran is the world's fourth largest producer of crude oil, but imports 40 per cent of its fuel needs because it lacks enough refining capabilities to meet domestic demand. *AFP