June 8, 2019
GENEVA (Reuters) – Iran has no plans to leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries despite being treated like an enemy by some fellow members, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in an interview published on Saturday.
“Iran has no plans to leave OPEC…and regrets that some members of OPEC have turned this organization into a political forum for confronting two founding members of OPEC, meaning Iran and Venezuela,” Zanganeh told the Iranian parliament news site ICANA.
“And two regional countries are showing enmity toward us in this organization. We are not their enemy but they are showing enmity toward us…and (they) use oil as a weapon against us in the global market and world.”
Zanganeh did not name the two countries.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – both U.S. allies – have spiked this year after the two said they would increase oil production to make up for Iranian crude cut off from the market by U.S. sanctions.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration added Iran’s largest petrochemical holding group to its sanctions list, accusing it of indirectly supporting Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards. Washington said the move aimed to dry up revenues to the elite Iranian military force but analysts called it largely symbolic.
Zanganeh was also quoted by ICANA as saying the United States had made it increasingly difficult for Iran to sidestep sanctions but it had come up with new ways to circumvent them.
“We have thought about confronting America’s actions and constantly have found and will find new ways and anyway this is a war where we are standing strong and will not retreat.” he said, without elaborating.
The Trump administration is seeking to isolate Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as its support for proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)