Iran warns West over petrol prices

Iran warns West over petrol prices

Iran warns West over petrol prices

Iran’s Foreign Ministery spokesman Ramin Mehmanperest says that the global price of crude would more than double if West seriously blocks Tehran’s ability to export oil. REUTERS photo

Iran called on the West to avoid a deepening diplomatic crisis following the storming of the British embassy in Tehran, saying it was an issue between Tehran and London alone, Iranian media reported on Nov. 3. Iranian officials warn any future sanctions to block oil exports will more than double crude oil price per barrel.

“The British government is trying to extend to other European countries the problem between the two of us,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, according to semi-official Fars news agency. “But of course we have told European countries not to subject their ties with us to the kind of problems that existed between Iran and Britain.”

Britain closed its embassy after incursion by hard-line youths on Nov. 29 and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London. The fallout for Tehran spread when several other countries recalled their envoys, including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. France was also bringing some of its diplomats and their families home from Tehran to ensure their safety, a French foreign ministry spokesman said Dec. 3. The move was temporary.

Western nations on Dec. 1 significantly tightened sanctions against Iran, with the EU expanding an Iranian blacklist and the U.S. Senate passing a measure that could severely disrupt Iran’s oil income.

Iran warns West over petrol prices

AFP photo

Iranian diplomats expelled from London arrived home on Dec. 3 to supporters bearing flowers and chanting “Death to England.” “Spy embassy closed for good,” read one of the many placards carried by the crowd of 100 men and women at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport, most of whom appeared to be members of the hard-line Basij militia. With swift condemnation from around the world, the embassy storming risks have further isolated Iran, which is already under several rounds of sanctions.

Hovewer, Iran’s Foreign Ministry believes that if the West seriously considers blocking Tehran’s ability to export oil, the global price of crude would more than double, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said. “As soon as such an issue is raised seriously the oil price would soar to above $250 a barrel,” he said, the reformist daily Sharq reported on Dec. 4.

Until recently, Iran had dismissed as ineffective mounting sanctions aimed at forcing it to halt its nuclear activities. Mehmanparast’s comments show a more defensive stance.

“No one welcomes the sanctions, we know that sanctions create obstacles, but we want to say we will overcome these obstacles,” he said.

“Imposing sanctions on oil and gas is among the sanctions that, if one wants to do that, the consequences should be fully considered before taking any action,” Mehmanparast said. “I do not think the situation in the world and especially in the West today is prepared enough to raise such discussions.”

Oil prices on Dec. 2 closed at $100.96 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude and $109.94 per barrel for Brent North Sea crude. The market is being influenced by the rising tensions over Iran - OPEC’s second largest producer after Saudi Arabia - and the economic situation in the U.S. and Europe.

Iran warns West over petrol prices

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Political rift

Mixed signals from Tehran over the attack have drawn attention to the deepening political rift within the Iranian leadership, a split created after Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential vote. Iran’s foreign ministry immediately apologized for the storming of the embassy, but hard-line rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised it, attributing it to a spontaneous outburst by hard-line students in reaction to Britain’s “historically hostile Iran policy.”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on state matters and Ahmadinejad have remained silent, a sign of the unease within the clerical establishment over the crisis. But in remarks reported on Nov.3, Ahmadinejad said Iran would not yield to pressures. “We will stick to our revolution’s principles and values with all our power, even if the entire world rises up against us,” he told a group of clerics, his official website reported.

Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami, one of four Tehran Friday prayer leaders appointed by Khamenei, condemned the embassy storming. “I say this explicitly, that I am opposed to attacks on and occupations of foreign embassies in the Islamic Republic,” Khatami said, the student news agency ISNA reported on Dec. 3. “The attack by the students will lead to a feeling of insecurity among foreign diplomats in Iran.”

Analysts said Iranian authorities are concerned about a military strike against their nuclear facilities as well as a revival of anti-government street protests that followed the 2009 vote, which the opposition said was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad’s re-election. “Sanctions are hurting the people and might force them to take to streets to vent their anger over the economy,” said analyst Hamid Farahvashi.

“Some Iranian hawks favor a military strike that will reinforce their strength. But wiser rulers want to preserve the system through an easing of the tension.”

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff