TEHRAN (Reuters) -Iran on Sunday repeated threats that it was ready to use its massive oil exports as a weapon to defend itself if it felt in danger in an international dispute over its atomic program.
But Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said international sanctions on 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian crude exports would be impractical and would send oil prices over $100 a barrel, up from around $70 now.
Iran has been hauled before the U.N. Security Council over suspicions it is seeking nuclear missiles, a charge it denies. It could face economic sanctions and the United States has consistently declined to rule out military action.
Vaziri-Hamaneh said earlier this month the world’s fourth biggest crude producer would prefer not to play the oil card and would only do so to defend its rights.
He struck a similar tone on Sunday, telling state television: “I think using the oil weapon would be advantageous to Iran in times of threats.”
“But using such a weapon in the normal situation in the country and oil markets would mean confronting the world and we do not have such a policy,” he added.
Eighty percent of Iran’s export earnings come from oil.
However, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman has said the United States would be in “good shape” even if Iran did close the spigots, owing to healthy stockpiles.