Iran Nuclear NewsIran sees oil disruption as `ultimate' weapon in atomic...

Iran sees oil disruption as `ultimate’ weapon in atomic dispute

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Bloomberg: Iran, second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will disrupt supplies only as the “ultimate” weapon in the conflict over its nuclear program, government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said. June 26 (Bloomberg) — Iran, second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will disrupt supplies only as the “ultimate” weapon in the conflict over its nuclear program, government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said.

“There is no reason not to use tools to protect the interests of the country,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency cited Elham as telling reporters at a news conference in Tehran today, in response to a question about whether Iran would use oil as a weapon. “These threats are directed to those who use force and seek to dominate.”

The Islamic Republic’s Oil Minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, said June 24 that Iran may use oil as a means of retaliating should the nation’s interests come under attack.

Crude oil prices have gained this year in part due to tension over Iran’s nuclear program and its work to enrich uranium. Iran has said its program is intended to generate electricity, in compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory. The country denies U.S. claims that it is seeking to develop atomic weapons in breach of that international agreement.

Conditions are “favourable for solving the nuclear issue diplomatically,” Elham said. Disrupting oil supplies is the “ultimate” option and “we don’t see the necessity to plan such matters in the current atmosphere and with the given conditions.”

“Tehran would not use oil as a weapon, but if its interests come under attack, it will use all available means, including oil,” Vaziri-Hamaneh said in an interview broadcast June 24, and repeated on Iranian state television yesterday in excerpts.

`Endanger Energy Flow’

The oil minister wasn’t specific about how oil may be used. Neither was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, when he said on June 4 that the U.S. could “seriously endanger energy flow in the region” by acting against Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. and European Union are trying to convince Iran to drop its nuclear fuel ambitions by offering technology and trade incentives in exchange for the Islamic Republic ceasing its enrichment work.

Iran may take up to two months before replying to the EU’s proposals, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said June 21.

This is an “awful long time” to respond, U.S. President George W. Bush said at a news conference in Vienna that day, following a meeting with EU leaders. “It shouldn’t take the Iranians that long to analyze a reasonable offer.”

While Iran wasn’t given a precise deadline to respond to the offer, Bush said June 9 that Iran has “weeks, not months” to decide whether to suspend verifiably its enrichment activities to avoid United Nations Security Council action.

Incentive Plan

Iran began a new round of enrichment June 6, the day the EU incentives were delivered in Tehran, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The incentive plan was agreed on June 1 by diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France — as well as by Germany. Each of the permanent members has a veto over the council’s resolutions.

Bush said April 18 that though diplomacy remained his preference, “all options are on the table” for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

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