Iran Says Will Remain in OPEC, Keep Fighting US Pressure

Iran’s oil minister says Tehran is going to remain a member of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) even though some members have joined the United States in using oil as a weapon to put pressure on Iran as one of the founders of the organization.

Bijan Zangeneh told ICANA – the Iranian parliament’s official news agency – in an all-inclusive interview that some OPEC members were trying to help US President Donald Trump to deliver on his pledge to zero out Tehran’s oil sales.

Zangeneh did not name any particular country but said such actions by member states weaken the organizations and drive OPEC towards “collapse.”

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged to replace Iran’s oil by stepping up their production. Experts, however, warn that neither of the two countries has the resources or the technology to take on the job.

“There are two countries in the region that keep being hostile to us, we are not their enemy but they keep being hostile and they have politicized OPEC and use oil as a weapon against us in the global market and in the world,” Zangeneh said, without directly naming the two countries.

Zangeneh added that those countries were trying to serve the interests of the US and Israel by keeping the prices low through propaganda.

He also noted that Iran will remain in OPEC despite the pressures.

However, he added, “what I mentioned earlier would hurt OPEC’s image, stability and strength.”

Oil Not Political, Shouldn’t Be Used as Weapon

The Iranian oil minister said the United States and other countries should avoid politicizing oil and using it as a weapon against other countries.

“Oil is not a weapon and is rather a global economic commodity that needs to enter and exit the market freely,” he said. “The US must get oil out of politics.”

He said the fluctuation caused by Washington’s actions was going to result in a price hike as no country was able to make up for Iran’s oil should Trump succeed in curbing the Islamic Republic’s exports.

This, he said, will harm OPEC the most because in a situation like this “oil producing countries don’t know whether they should keep their oil or sell it” due to price unpredictability.

Sanctions ‘Tough’ but Iran Knows Its Way around Them

Zangeneh said the current US sanctions against Iran formed “the most extreme systematic sanctions regime in history” and the country was effectively engaged in a war.

The Trump administration has imposed what it calls the “toughest ever” sanctions against Iran’s oil industry to cripple the country’s economy and force it to agree to negotiations on its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs as well as its regional influence.

Zangeneh noted that while the US has made it more difficult for Iran to bypass the sanctions Tehran was still able to sell its oil.

“They have reached a point that they want to block all the possible ways to confront sanctions,” he said.

“But of course, we have our own plans to confront US actions and we have our own alternative ways and keep discovering new solutions,” he added.

“After all, this is a war we intend to fight firmly and do not plan to back out of,” he asserted.

Zangeneh said he would not disclose Iran’s daily oil exports until all sanctions are lifted.

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