Iran has warned its Gulf neighbors to not compensate for any shortfall in its oil exports after it has been hit with Western sanctions, the Iranian OPEC representative said on Sunday.
“If the oil producing nations on the Persian Gulf decide to substitute Iran’s oil, then they will be held responsible for what happens,” Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying by Sharq newspaper.
“We would not consider these actions to be friendly,” Khatibi added.
Sanctions have been imposed on Iran when European Union countries agreed in principle to embargo imports of Iranian oil as part of the latest Western efforts to step up heat on Tehran.
These countries will look to other oil exporters to increase output to make up for the shortfall and Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Saturday his country was ready to meet any increase in consumer countries’ demand.
Iran is the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel, after Saudi Arabia which currently exports some 6.2 million barrels per day (bpd) and has an output of about 3.5 million bpd, according to OPEC estimates.
Iran faces trade hurdles over its nuclear program, which the United States and its allies say is aimed at building bombs.
Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity.
But most Western countries believe the drive masks the development nuclear weapons − a suspicion strengthened though not confirmed by a November report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday vowed “stronger and stronger” sanctions until Iran agreed to negotiate but cautioned against becoming “starry-eyed” about the effectiveness of economic restrictions.
The minister said Britain was not contemplating imminent military action against Iran, but stressed it would not “take any options off the table in the long term.”
EU countries have proposed “grace periods” on existing contracts of one to 12 months to allow companies to find alternative suppliers before implementing an embargo.
Iran has threatened to block the vital oil shipping route of the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if sanctions imposed on its oil exports.