DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s president threatened to curtail oil sales if the country is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions on its nuclear program, a newspaper reported Saturday.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted in an interview with the Khaleej Times that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful. But he warned the country would protect its right to a nuclear fuel supply.
“If Iran’s case is sent to the Security Council, we will respond by many ways, for example by holding back on oil sales,” the president told the Dubai-based newspaper.
Iran pumps about 4 million barrels daily, making it the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia. Crude oil exports normally account for about 80 percent of Iran’s hard currency income, and an oil official last month projected revenues from oil exports this year at $43 billion.
The United States does not purchase Iranian oil, but it would be affected by a substantial Iranian curtailment of oil supplies as that would raise the price of oil on the world market.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks came after a resolution passed by the
International Atomic Energy Agency last month put Iran on the verge of referral unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities. Iran insists its nuclear program is for energy purposes, while the United States suspects Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Since the U.N. nuclear agency’s resolution, other Iranian officials have threatened to resume uranium enrichment and block U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities unless the U.N. nuclear agency stepped back from its action.
Iran has also threatened to use trade to punish countries that voted for the resolution, and last week the parliament began debating a bill to force the government to scale back cooperation with the IAEA.
The president criticized the resolution and foreign countries, however, for trying to impose their will on Iran,
“I said I’ll do every thing in order to uphold our national interest,” Ahmadinejad said of his campaign promises ahead of the June presidential election. “One of these things is that we will have access to the nuclear supply process.”
“We don’t want to be at war with the world, ” he said.