Sunday, October 02, 2005

Iran denies oil threat interview to UAE newspaper

Iran's presidential office denied on Sunday the president had given an interview to a Gulf paper which quoted him as saying Tehran may hold back on oil sales if its nuclear program is referred to the U.N. Security Council.

The Khaleej Times from the United Arab Emirates on Saturday quoted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying OPEC's second biggest crude exporter could wield the oil weapon if Tehran's case was sent to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

"The presidential office has denied that Ahmadinejad had any interview with the Khaleej Times from the United Arab Emirates," said a statement from the presidential office. READ MORE

A Khaleej Times statement said it had received the interview from a freelance journalist who expressed surprise at Ahmadinejad's denial. But it would not confirm or deny the content of the story.

The Iranian statement did not specifically deny Ahmadinejad had made the oil threat to a reporter who he may not have known wrote stories for the Khaleej Times.

However, a spokesman for the presidential office said the statement was intended to convey the idea that Ahmadinejad had also been misquoted on an oil threat.

Washington accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons while Iran insists it wants a nuclear program only to run atomic power stations.

The Khaleej Times said the freelance correspondent had given them the exclusive interview.

"The confusion must have occurred because on the several occasions she met or got in touch with him (president) she presented herself as a reporter with the American-based Arabic News, and not as a Khaleej Times reporter," the paper said.

Iran also denied a major interview last year, accusing the Arabic language Al Jazeera channel of misquoting then Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani on a threat to launch pre-emptive strikes if Iran's nuclear facilities were threatened.