U.S. making a 'bad mistake' by politicizing oil, Iranian minister warns
The United States has made a bad mistake by politicizing oil and using it as a weapon, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in a parliamentary session on Tuesday, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
“America has made a bad mistake by politicizing oil and using it as a weapon in the fragile state of the market,” Zanganeh said, according to IRNA.
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Oil prices on Tuesday hit their highest level since November after Washington announced all waivers on imports of sanctions-hit Iranian oil would end next week, pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran and further tightening global supply.
Zanganeh added that the United States will not be able to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
“With all our power, we will work toward breaking America’s sanctions,” Zanganeh said in parliament, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).
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The United States on Monday demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers which allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.
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 worried about tight supplies.
Zanganeh said the oil market is unpredictable and the announcement by the United States and its regional supporters intended to keep oil prices stable is a sign of their concern, ISNA reported.
“You can’t be assured that enough oil can be produced to meet demand,” Zanganeh said, according to IRNA. “Because some regional countries announce production capacities higher than their real levels.”
The U.S. has faced backlash for its move to impost sanctions.
Beijing on Tuesday again lashed out at a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil, calling it a violation of China’s interests that will intensify turmoil in the Middle East and international energy markets.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the U.S. is operating outside its jurisdiction in unilaterally imposing the sanctions. He said normal interactions between Iran and other countries are “reasonable and lawful” and deserving of respect and protection.
“The relevant actions of the U.S. will also intensify the turmoil in the Middle East and international energy market,” Geng said.
“We urge the U.S. to play a constructive role in a responsible manner, instead of the other way around. In addition, we have already made complaints with the U.S. on this matter,” he said.
Geng said China will work to safeguard its companies’ interests, reflecting its desire to secure foreign markets as it pursues its massive “Belt-and-Road” infrastructure initiative.
China is one of Iran’s biggest oil markets and was a strong backer of the agreement to lift sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear weapons program that was scrapped by President Donald Trump.
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The Trump administration said Monday that it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, stepping up pressure on Iran in a move that primarily affects the five remaining major importers.
Along with India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, China was one of the countries primarily affected by the announcement.
Oil prices soared to their highest level since October on Tuesday.
The sanctions could potentially remove up to 1.2 million barrels of oil per day from international markets, according to industry experts. However, that number will likely be lower, depending on how countries respond and just how much oil Iran continues to export.
–With a file from the Associated Press.