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Japan Refiners Aren’t in Talks With Government on Iran Oil

Japanese refiners haven’t started talks with the government on cutting imports of Iranian crude after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the country, the head of Japan’s oil industry association said.

“We aren’t in talks with the government at the moment,” Akihiko Tembo, chairman of Idemitsu Kosan Co. and the Petroleum Association of Japan, told reporters in Tokyo today.

The Japanese government signaled support for U.S. efforts to cut imports of Iranian oil as senior U.S. officials including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner visited Tokyo. Japan, the second-biggest importer of Iranian crude after China, will probably be forced to cut purchases from the country as banks may stop doing business with the Central Bank of Iran to avoid penalties from the U.S., Tembo said.

“No matter what the Japanese government says, we can’t keep doing business with Iran, once banks pull back on transactions,” Tembo said. “Japanese refiners are probably trying to reduce and replace Iranian oil imports with other sources as a realistic approach.”

The U.S. and its allies say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a claim the country denies. The sanctions are aimed at cutting off Iran’s main source of income to force the government to abandon its atomic program.

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