Iran warns it may use oil as weapon if interests attacked

iran nuclear standoffTEHRAN, June 25, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s oil minister has warned that the country would use oil as a weapon if its interests are attacked, state television reported Sunday.

"If the country’s interests are attacked, we will use all our capabilities and oil is one of them," Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said on Saturday, the television reported.

Iran is currently locked in a standoff with the international community over its nuclear program, facing the threat of sanctions if it does not accept a US-backed offer and halt sensitive nuclear work.

Vaziri-Hamaneh warned about impact any sanctions on Iran would have in the oil market, saying the price of crude, currently around 70 dollars a barrel, risked going up to 100 dollars.

"The world needs energy and understands the affect of oil sanctions against Iran on the market and no-one will make such an unreasonable decision," he added.

The West fears Iran, which is OPEC’s number two oil exporter, is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran which insists its atomic program is purely for electricity-generation.