(Reuters) | April 6, 2010

Robin Pomeroy and Hashem Kalantari

(Reuters) – The idea of international sanctions on Iranian oil exports is a joke, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday, adding Iran would not abandon its disputed nuclear work despite mounting international pressure.

U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing for new U.N. sanctions in the coming weeks to pressure Iran to stop its sensitive nuclear activities, which Washington and its European allies believe is a cover to develop bombs.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said restricting Iran’s oil and gas exports — an idea not included in the latest proposals agreed by Western powers — was “illogical” and that all sanctions would fail.

“Countries need oil to guarantee their economic growth … talking about imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil sector is like a joke,” Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly news conference. “Such a move would hurt other (importer) countries.

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