06/27/2006, 00.00
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Oil Iran's "ultimate" weapon in nuclear controversy

The threat mentioned by the government spokesman was already voiced by the Oil Minister just recently.

Teheran (AsiaNews) – Oil will be Iran's "ultimate weapon" in the controversy over its nuclear programme. This was reiterated yesterday by the government spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, according to the official news agency IRNA.

"There is no reason not to use tools to protect the interests of the country,'' he said in reply to a question. "These threats are directed to those who use force and seek to dominate.''

The use of oil as a weapon had already been threatened on 24 June by the Iranian Oil Minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, when he claimed his country may use it to retaliate, if this would serve national interests should they come under attack. "Teheran would not use oil as a weapon, but if its interests come under attack, it will use all available means, including oil,'' said the minister in an interview broadcast on state television.

Iran is the world's fourth largest oil producer, and ranks second among OPEC member countries. Its exports amount to somewhere between 2.3 and 2.4 million barrels per day, for an income that last year was around 50 billion dollars. But for this financial year – which will finish on 20 March 2007 as per the Iranian calendar – Minister Vaziri-Hamaneh has announced a projected income of 60 billion dollars.

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