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Iran OPEC chief: 'Saudi and Russia are taking oil market hostage'

Iran's OPEC chief Hossein Kazempour Ardebili says Saudi and Russian actions are a result of US attempts to cut Iran off.

Hossein Kazempour Ardebili

Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, has accused fellow OPEC country Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC country Russia of taking the global oil market hostage.

Their actions are a direct result of attempts by the United States to cut Iran's access to the global market off, he said.

"Russia and Saudi Arabia claim they seek to balance the global oil market, but they are trying to take over a part of Iran's share," Ardebili told Iran's oil news agency SHANA

"Trump's efforts to cut Iran's access to the global crude market has prompted Russia and Saudi Arabia to take the market hostage," he added.

"The American bullish behaviour will certainly not end with Iran becoming another Venezuela, as it was not the case with Iraq and Kuwait."

Ardebili went on and accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of welcoming US sanctions on Iran for their own gain and claimed the organisation is losing its power.

"Saudi Arabia and UAE are turning the OPEC into a US tool," he said.

"It is a fact that OPEC is losing its organisational character and is becoming a forum," he added.

"Simply said, nobody is afraid of a toothless lion that growls from time to time and it does not harm anyone." 

Iran is currently OPEC's third-largest producer, but the US wants to cut its production down to zero by November as part of sanctions imposed on the country.

US officials are pressing allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, to adhere to the sanctions, which are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a new agreement to halt its nuclear programme.

In June, India, the largest buyer of Iranian oil after China, said it expects to import less oil from Iran in the coming months because it wants to protect its exposure to the US financial system.

If Iran's oil production does go down to zero, other countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia are expected to produce more to keep oil prices stable.

The US, led by President Donald Trump, has also pressured OPEC to raise output in an attempt to reduce oil prices in recent months,

Iran demanded the organisation reject calls from Trump for an increase in oil supply, arguing that the US has contributed to a recent rise in prices by imposing sanctions on Iran and fellow member Venezuela.

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