TEHRAN (RETUERS) - Iran’s oil minister said the Islamic state would not retreat from its nuclear programme even if its crude oil exports grind to a halt, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday. But he also called on the European Union, which accounted for a quarter of Iranian crude oil sales in the third quarter of 2011, to review its decision last week to bank Iranian oil imports from July 1. “We will not abandon our just nuclear course, even if we cannot sell one drop of oil,” Rostam Qasemi told reporters, according to IRNA.

Tension with the West rose last month when Washington and the European Union imposed the toughest sanctions yet on Iran in a bid to force it to provide more information on its nuclear programme. The measures are aimed at shutting off the second-biggest OPEC oil exporters’ sales of crude.

Qasemi said Iran would cut oil exports to some nations in Europe - he did not specify which - in retaliation for the 27-state EU’s decision to stop importing Iranian crude.

“Our oil exports will certainly be cut to some European countries ... We will decide about other European countries later,” Qasemi told a news conference, IRNA reported.

He urged Europe to reconsider its ban, and said the oil market is in balance now but would be thrown into turmoil without Iranian crude supplies.

“Unfortunately the EU has succumbed to America’s pressure. I hope they would review their decision on sanctioning Iran’s oil exports,” Qasemi said.

“The international crude market will experience turmoil in the absence of Iranian oil with unforeseen consequences on oil prices,” he said.

Iran remains a key supplier for many countries, and some of its major customers are seeking waivers from Washington from the sanctions while they look for alternative sources of oil.

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, has promised to make up any shortfall in supply.

Iranian officials have said sanctions have had no impact on it, while the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened on Friday to retaliate against the West for sanctions.

Qasemi also played down the importance of Europe as a market for its exports.

But Qasemi played down the possibility of Iran blocking the crucial waterway.