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News | Iran Issues Stark Warning to Israel, Urges Emergency OPEC Session

02 Jul 2012 00:50Comments

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HajizadehSittingFars.jpg12:50 a.m. IRDT, 12 Tir/July 2 As a European Union embargo on Iranian oil went into effect Sunday, the Islamic Republic announced an extensive series of missile tests and a high-ranking Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general threatened that Iran would wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" in reprisal for any military attack. Reuters reports,
Announcing three days of missile tests in the coming week, Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the exercises should be seen as a message "that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to...bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly."

Any attack on Iran by Israel would be answered resolutely: "If they take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth," said Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' airborne division, according to state news agency IRNA.

The missile tests will target mock-ups of air bases in the region, Hajizadeh said, adding that its ability to strike U.S. bases in the Gulf protects Iran from U.S. support for Israel.

"U.S. bases in the region are within range of our missiles and weapons, and therefore they certainly will not cooperate with the regime [Israel]," he told IRNA.

Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, reports on further comments made by the brigadier general:

Hajizadeh said Israel knows that its military is no match for the Islamic Republic's prowess, or else it would not have hesitated to attack Iran.

He asked how can Israel attack Iran when it was defeated by Hezbollah, which is a small group compared to the Islamic Republic, in the 33-Day War. [...]

He further announced that Iran plans to unveil, in the near future, a new ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers and capable of traveling at more than three times the speed of sound.

The projectile has the capacity of targeting defense shields and radar systems and can hit Israel's anti-missile system known as the Iron Dome, Hajizadeh said.

Earlier this week on Tehran Bureau, Navid Hassibi offered a radically different perspective on the deeply fraught relationship between the two nations in It Is Time for Iran and Israel to Reassess Their Mutual Hostility.

ExchangeRateMehr.jpgIranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi has urged OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri to call for an emergency meeting to address declining oil prices, according to the Iranian Oil Ministry's website.

Energy exports comprise over 70 percent of Iran's state income, and are therefore the target for Western sanctions aimed at upsetting the cost-benefit analysis of Iranian negotiators in their talks with the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- over Iran's uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities.

Iran exported an average of between 2 and 2.2 million barrels of oil per day last year; by last month, its exports had plummeted approximately 40 percent from that level due to sweeping U.S. sanctions and anticipation of the E.U. embargo. This past Tuesday, South Korea announced that it would stop importing Iranian oil due to an E.U. ban on insuring tankers transporting Iranian crude, a move intended to strengthen enforcement of the embargo.

The loss of Iranian oil from international markets has been offset by increased production from American allies such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the latter of which has reached its highest level of production in decades.

Ghasemi warned OPEC that it was producing oil in excess of the daily level of 30 million barrels agreed on at the cartel's June 14 meeting. He called for the emergency session to ensure that future production levels do not continue to exceed the set limit. Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani supported Ghasemi's request.

"We have asked the Secretary-General to set up an extraordinary meeting as prices have become irrational," said Ghasemi, as quoted on the Oil Ministry's website.

Ghasemi's call signals growing Iranian anxiety over sinking oil prices and frustration over the role that regional rival Saudi Arabia is playing in the market shifts. It remains to be seen how far Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is willing to allow the country's economy to be disrupted before his officials employ a less defiant approach in negotiations with the P5+1. Rampant inflation -- by no means solely attributable to, but fueled by sanctions -- has affected the Iranian public's ability to purchase basic food items from vegetables to rice, a staple of the national cuisine.

Homepage photo: Prices for rice (Mehr News Agency).

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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