Iran today warned Arab oil producers of consequences if they support new oil sanctions against Iran. The warning came on a day when the Chinese premier was in Riyadh discussing increased oil imports from Saudi Arabia.
“If (the Arabs) give the green light to replacing Iran's oil, these countries would be the main culprits for whatever happens in the region - including the Strait of Hormuz," warned Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran’s Governor at OPEC. “Our Arab neighbor countries should not cooperate with these (US and European) adventurers. These measures will not be perceived as friendly,” he added [Sharq, 15 January].
Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which brought out Iran’s warning, was yet another sign of the deepening isolation of Tehran in its dispute with the West.
“China and Saudi Arabia are both in important stages of development and there are broad prospects for enhancing cooperation,” Wen told Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef on Saturday [Xinhua/Reuters, 15 January].
A new US law signed by President Obama on New Year's Eve would freeze out of the US financial system any institution dealing with Iran's central bank - which handles the country’s oil revenues. If and when fully applied, the law would make it impossible for most countries to buy Iranian oil. Leaders from Asian countries that buy the most Iranian oil have begun touring the Middle East to source alternative supplies from Arab producers [Reuters, 15 January].
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said yesterday his country was ready and able to meet any increase in demand [Reuters, 15 January].