Iran oil minister warns using oil as weapon threatens OPEC
President Hassan Rouhani reiterated on Wednesday that Iran will continue selling its oil despite US sanctions and said Washington's policy of putting pressure on Tehran would fail in practice.
Rouhani called the US decision to try to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero a "baseless" policy, saying that the US government’s threatening rhetoric against Iran did not match its actual power.
“The Americans’ words are completely baseless. Their power does not [nearly] match their bluster,” the Iranian president said. “We know the region and the power of the great Iranian nation better than them. Our nation’s [capacity for] sacrifice and power is greater than what the Americans can conceive.”
Under President Donald Trump, the US has initiated what it calls a campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, pulling out of a multilateral deal with the country and imposing sanctions against it.
With the sanctions, Washington has been seeking, among other goals, to bring Iran’s oil sales down to “zero.” The White House has also imposed so-called secondary sanctions that target other countries doing business with Iran.
President Rouhani said Iran would continue to sell its oil nevertheless. “We will be weathering the difficulties, selling our oil, and meeting our needs.”
“We bear no hostility toward anyone but would not stand idly by in the face of conspiracies [either],” the Iranian president said.
Possible collapse of OPEC
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Wednesday any country using oil as a weapon could cause the collapse of oil producer group OPEC.
Oil prices hit their highest since November in recent days after Washington said all waivers for those importing sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end this week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
“Those who use oil as a weapon against two founding members of OPEC are disturbing the unity of OPEC and creating the death and collapse of OPEC and the responsibility for that is with them,” Zanganeh said in a speech at an oil and gas conference in Tehran.
Iran will not leave OPEC, Masoud Karbasian, the chief executive of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said on Wednesday.
The White House said after its Iran move it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets were “adequately supplied”, but traders worry about tight supplies.
The United States demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that had allowed Iran’s eight biggest customers, most of them in Asia, to import limited volumes.
America will not, however, be able to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero and two of the Islamic Republic’s neighbors are exaggerating their oil production capacity, Zanganeh said.
Iran is examining new ways to sell its oil, Zanganeh said without providing details.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.