Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi says the country has stopped exporting crude to Greece in line with a decision by the Islamic Republic to cut oil sales to certain European countries. Qasemi said sanctions against the Iranian oil sector started many years ago, adding that, “fortunately, these sanctions have had the least effects on Iran's oil industry and have not been able to hamper the oil industry’s progress,” Fars news agency reported. On April 5, Press TV reported that Iran terminated oil sales to two Greek firms, Hellenic Petroleum, a major refiner in Greece, and Motor Oil Hellas, over their failure to pay for their crude purchases from Tehran. Iran has already cut oil exports to France and Britain in response to the US-led sanctions imposed on the Iranian oil industry, after the EU announced plans on January 23 to impose a ban on purchasing oil from Iran. EU sanctions will take effect on July 1, 2012, to give the bloc’s member states enough time to adjust to the new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies. The United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to impose international and unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Iran refutes the Western allegation, and maintains that, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.