Iran warns Gulf states over oil embargo
Iran's OPEC governor says the neighboring Persian Gulf countries will be responsible for any consequences, should they agree to compensate for the Islamic Republic's oil exports in the event of Western sanctions against Tehran, Press TV reported.
"If our southern neighbors collaborate with the adventurous states by substituting their oil for Iran's oil, these countries will be considered as accomplices in future events," said Mohammad Ali Khatibi in a Sunday interview, adding that Tehran will consider such "green light" to the West as an unfriendly gesture.
The top Iranian energy official noted that, should the Persian Gulf countries be prudent enough to announce that they will not participate in an oil embargo against Iran, the "adventurous" Western countries will be dissuaded from imposing oil sanctions against Iran.
Khatibi warned the oil-rich neighbors that any attempt to substitute Iranian crude is not a mere business initiative and it would mean entering a "very dangerous political game," noting that the West's oil embargo against Tehran is leveraged by Israel.
The warning comes in the wake of the Tuesday remarks by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe who said unnamed oil producing countries would boost their output to make up for a planned EU ban on Iranian oil.
"Other countries are ready to increase production to avoid an effect on prices. We have made discreet contacts in this direction. The producers don't want to talk about it, but they are standing ready," he said.
The EU foreign ministers are expected to hold a meeting later this month on January 23 to discuss the proposed embargo on Iran's oil exports.
EU members have so far failed to reach a final agreement on such details as the exact timing of the sanctions and their diplomats say it may take months before sanctions actually enter into force given the critical economic conditions facing European countries.
European measures against Iran's oil industry, if approved, will come after US sanctions announced on New Year's Eve that aim to make it impossible for most refineries to buy Iranian crude.
On Saturday, December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law fresh economic sanctions against Iran's Central Bank requiring foreign financial firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran's Central Bank and oil sector or with the US financial sector.
US sanctions, as well as other unilateral embargoes imposed on Iran's energy and financial sectors by Britain and Canada came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report on Iranian nuclear program early November, accusing Tehran of seeking to weaponize its nuclear technology.
Tehran argues that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.