World Briefs: Iran feels pinch of new sanctions

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TEHRAN — As new European Union sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry took effect Sunday, Tehran acknowledged the measures aimed at reining in its disputed nuclear program were taking a toll.

The vice president said authorities had stockpiled imported goods and hard currency to help cushion the blow to the economy.

The ban by the 27-member EU on the purchase of Iranian oil dealt the Islamic republic its second economic setback in days, following fresh U.S. sanctions that prohibit the world’s banks from completing oil transactions with Iranian banks.

Combined, the measures significantly ratchet up the pressure on an Iranian economy already squeezed by previous rounds of sanctions.

“Today, we are facing the heaviest of sanctions, and we ask people to help officials in this battle,” Vice President Mohammed Reza Rahimi was quoted as saying on state television’s website.

He said the “dastardly sanctions” might cause “occasional confusion” in the domestic market.

Iran reacted furiously when the U.S. and EU sanctions were announced, threatening to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway used to ship about one-fifth of the world’s oil. The threat roiled international oil markets.

The EU, which accounted for around 18 percent of Iran’s oil exports, said last week that all contracts for importing Iranian oil will have to be terminated from Sunday. Also, European companies no longer will be involved in insuring Iranian oil.

JAPAN

First nuclear reactor goes on since tsunami

TOKYO — Dozens of protesters shouted and danced at the gate of a nuclear power plant as it restarted Sunday, the first to go back online since Japan shut down all of its reactors for safety checks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Ohi nuclear plant’s reactor No. 3 returned to operation despite a deep division in public opinion.

Last month, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the restarts of reactors No. 3 and nearby No. 4, saying people’s living standards can’t be maintained without nuclear energy.

Many citizens are against a return to nuclear power because of safety fears after the Fukushima accident.

All 50 of Japan’s working reactors were gradually turned off in the wake of last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami, which sent the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant into multiple meltdowns, setting off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in the mid-1980s in Ukraine.

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