Monday, June 5, 2006

War, peace, and oil

Link: US downplays Iranian oil threat (Washington Post).

... Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of the world's fourth largest oil exporter, said on Sunday that oil flows could be disrupted if the United States made a "wrong move" against Iran. His remarks prompted oil prices to rise.

"I understand why the commodities markets may be unsettled by a comment like that, but over time if this succeeds the commodities markets are going to be very happy and so should we all be," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Khamenei did not specify what would be considered a wrong move, but the White House interpreted the comment as referring to an invasion. Khamenei also said the United States was not capable of securing energy flows in the region.

"He threatened that in the case of a United States invasion. That was a theoretical statement," Snow said.

"I am not going to tell what steps one might take in such a situation. That not only would be irresponsible, it would be unprecedented," he added.

Snow urged patience to allow Iran to consider the offer agreed last week by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, designed to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to deliver the package to Iran this week.

"There are going to be any number of statements coming out of Iran. I would caution against leaping to conclusions until the leadership in Iran has actually had an opportunity to look over the package of incentives and disincentives," Snow said.

"The Iranians are going to realize that this is a serious offer. It's an offer that offers great promise for them, it offers great promise for the region, but it's going to take some time," Snow said.

Western nations suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make an atomic bomb. Iran insists its aims are peaceful and that it wants to make fuel only to generate electricity.

"Let's give it time, let the Iranians take a look at what the offers are, the incentives and disincentives. One can probably expect there to be a couple of quick rejoinders. We counsel patience," Snow said.

Hoping to make the incentive package more attractive to Iran, Washington last week announced it was ready to join multilateral talks with Iran on condition that Tehran ceased uranium enrichment.

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