The head of Italy’s refiners’ lobby, Mr. Piero de Simone, has revealed that Italy is preparing to close five refineries because of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against Iran and the boycott of its oil resources.

At their last meeting in Brussels on 23 January 2012, the EU Foreign Ministers slapped new sanctions on Iran, including a ban on buying oil from that country, a freeze on the European assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran, and a ban on the sale of diamonds, gold and precious metals to Iran.

Mr. Simone claims that at the European level some 70 refineries could be shut down as a result of these decisions.

However, the sanctions will have little impact on Iran since its main buyers, India and China, with a growing demand for energy, have already found ways to skirt the embargo.

According to De Simone, "Asian countries not applying the embargo could buy the Iranian oil at a discount and sell cheap refined products back to us."

Meanwhile, the French refinery owned by Petroplus (with 550 direct employees, 400 subcontractors and 1,000 direct jobs created) is about to close, the troubled Swiss refiner having filed for insolvency for its five European refineries, accounting for 2,500 direct employees (Small Crown in France, Antwerp in Belgium, Cressier in Switzerland and Essex and Teesside in Great Britain as well as the Research and Development Unit in Cardiff).

The Ministers alleged that sanctions against Iran were fueled by their fears regarding the nature of Tehran’s nuclear program. European suspicions could not be confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, notwithstanding the fact that Iran is the most inspected state in the world in this domain. They are based solely on Israeli intelligence reports, even though Israel does not hide its intention to provoke an armed conflict against Iran.

In the final analysis, the sanctions against Iran adopted by EU foreign ministers to please their Israeli partner are backfiring against European companies and employees.