Sunday, June 04, 2006

Iran's leader threatens oil cut

The Herald:
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that Western accusations Iran seeks nuclear weapons are a "sheer lie," and he declared that attempts to punish Tehran would jeopardize the world's oil supply. READ MORE

The implied threat was dismissed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said Iran was too dependent on oil revenues to disrupt the flow of crude. She also put Iran on notice that the incentives offered by the West to suspend its nuclear program are not open-ended.

"I'm not one for timelines and specific schedules, but I think it's fair to say that we really do have to have this settled over a matter of weeks, not months," she said.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, made his comments in a speech broadcast live on state radio.

"If you make any mistake (punish or attack Iran), definitely shipment of energy from this region will be seriously jeopardized," Khamenei said, addressing Western nations.

Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter and has the second-largest reserves in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Khamenei, however, did not specify how oil supplies would be disrupted, and he insisted to the assembled throng that Iran would not be "the initiator of war."

Contrary to Khamenei's remarks, other Iranian officials have repeatedly ruled out using oil as weapon.