Iran, Venezuela discuss oil embargo

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

TEHRAN — "Oil is the lifeline of the West, and most of the West's military industries are dependent on it,” the Tehran Times suggested in an editorial last week. Irritated by a recent resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that called for a halt to Iran’s uranium conversion program, the newspaper suggested that oil-rich states form a united front and use oil as a tool to confront "western neocolonialist countries."

In Venezuela, Pres. Hugo Chavez has taken the idea a step further, threatening to halt oil exports if alleged attacks on his country continue, according to Agence France Press. Appearing last week as a witness at a symbolic “anti-imperialist court” in Caracas, Chavez said, “Washington’s molestation may cause more serious problems; our two oil tankers going to the U.S. everyday may go to another country.” He added that the “Northern America market is not compulsory for us.” Venezuela exports 1.5 million barrels of oil to the United States daily.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian newspaper’s editorial described oil as “the most potent economic weapon for settling scores,” and suggested an embargo on oil sales to the United States and European countries that are pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program. It also criticized what it sees as a double standard, noting that Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, and that most of them have conducted tests.

In an interview with an Israeli TV station from his Texas ranch, Pres. Bush expressed doubts that the European Union’s diplomatic initiative to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear activities would succeed, and refused to rule out the use of force. "All options are on the table," he said.

Israel has been prodding Washington to get tougher, charging that Iran resumed its nuclear activities because it sensed the "weakness" of the international community. "Iran made this decision because they are getting the impression that the United States and the Europeans are spineless," a senior official from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office told Agence France Press.

The IAEA’s resolution expressed "serious concern" at Iran's resumption of uranium conversion and set a Sept. 3 deadline for its report on the country’s compliance. “We want diplomacy to work,” Bush commented, “and, you know, we will see if we are successful or not. As you know, I'm skeptical."