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Iran says no OPEC member can take over its share of oil exports

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran told OPEC on Sunday no member country should be allowed to take over another member's share of oil exports, expressing Tehran's concern about Saudi Arabia's offer to pump more oil in the face of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

In a meeting with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, a senior Iranian diplomat urged him to keep the group out of politics.

"No country is allowed to take over the share of other members for production and exports of oil under any circumstance, and the OPEC Ministerial Conference has not issued any licence for such actions," Iran's oil ministry news agency SHANA quoted Kazem Gharibabadi, the permanent envoy to Vienna-based international organisations, as saying.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and announced sanctions against the OPEC member. Washington is pushing allies to cut imports of Iranian oil to zero and will impose a new round of sanctions on Iranian oil sales in November.

Trump has called on OPEC to pump more oil to bring down prices. Energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, and Russia said in May they were prepared to ease output cuts to calm consumer worries about supply.

"Iran believes that OPEC should strongly support its members at this stage and stop the plots of countries trying to politicise this organisation," Gharibabadi said.

Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran are involved in proxy wars, including in Yemen and Syria.

Iran and other signatories of the nuclear deal, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, have been working to find a way to salvage the agreement despite U.S. pressures.

Iran has set a series of conditions for European powers if they want Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal, including steps by European banks to safeguard trade with Tehran and guaranteeing Iranian oil sales.


EU'S PLAN

Iran's vice president said on Sunday the government was seeking solutions to sell oil and transfer its revenues despite fresh U.S. sanctions.

In August, Washington imposed sanctions on acquisition of U.S. dollar by Iran, and its trade in gold and precious metals. Washington will reimpose on Nov. 4 sanctions on Iran's oil exports, and banking sector.

"We are hopeful that the European countries can meet their commitments but even if they cannot, we are seeking solutions to sell our oil and transfer its revenues," Eshaq Jahangiri was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

In similar remarks, Iranian foreign minister praised the European signatories for their efforts to salvage the deal, especially for EU's so-called blocking statute that aims to mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions for European businesses.

However, Mohammad Javad Zarif said such measures have not been enough.

"The European have so far expressed their stance, but have failed to present an action plan ... We believe the Europe is not ready yet to pay a price," Zarif was quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Zarif also tweeted on Sunday that the formation of a new Iran "Action Group" in the U.S. State Department to coordinate Trump's pressure campaign against Iran aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but it would fail.


(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Evans)