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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Saudi Plan to Boost Oil Output ‘Unfriendly’ - Iran

RIA Novosti

17:14 17/01/2012 MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's foreign minister has warned oil exporting countries against making "unfriendly" statements about boosting output if Iran’s exports of 2.2 million barrels a day are hindered by international sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi issued the statement after Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told CNN his country is ready to boost oil production to make up any shortfalls due to sanctions on Iran.

“The remarks of the Saudi minister, if really reflect Riyadh's official views, are not a friendly sign to Tehran,” the IRNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying. “Tehran advises the Saudi officials to react to regional issues in a more rational way.”

Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves are more than double those of Iran, its nearest competitor within OPEC. Al Naimi said his country has “substantial spare capacity” since it is producing some 9.4-9.8 million barrels per day, but has the capacity to produce 12.5 million barrels.

The Iranian official added he believed the Saudi energy minister’s remarks were only his own personal views, not supported by the rest of the country’s political leadership.

He also said that “Iran has always acted as a basic element in establishing and maintaining stability, peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”

“The Persian Gulf security was a matter of collective efforts and could not be established or maintained by ultra-regional forces,” the top Iranian diplomat was quoted as saying. “Since Iran has the longest coastline in the Persian Gulf among the regional states, it naturally considers itself at the top of the list in such issues as peace and security.”

Western nations suspect Iran, which is already under numerous international sanctions, of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.

The European Union’s foreign ministers are expected to make a decision on an Iranian oil embargo at a January 23 meeting.

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