Ali Akbar Salehi

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has slammed Saudi Arabia for saying it could make up for any global crude oil shortage if international sanctions were imposed on Iranian oil. Salehi said such a stance would gravely affect relations between the two countries.

ISNA reports that Salehi was speaking at a commemoration service for the martyrs of the nuclear industry when he challenged the recent statement by Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, saying: “If this is the official opinion of the Saudi Oil Minister, we caution Saudi officials to use greater deliberation and reason when dealing with regional issues.”

The Saudi Oil Minister told CNN that his country is ready to increase crude output to 12 million barrels a day from just over nine million barrels. He said it would be as easy as turning on the tap and waiting a few days.

Salehi said Iran expects regional countries to refrain from such statements, which could degrade bilateral relations. He added, however, that he is certain this is not the official stance of the Saudi government.

Iran has warned the Gulf region countries to refrain from assisting U.S. efforts to slap Iranian oil with international sanctions.

Iran is second only to Saudi Arabia in oil production, yielding more than 3.5 million barrels of crude each day.

The Iranian Foreign Minister also touched on the letter that U.S. President Barack Obama recently sent to Iran’s Supreme Leader regarding the security of the Strait of Hormuz.

Salehi said: “We have always said that, more than any country, we are committed to the security of the Persian Gulf.”

He added: “The Islamic Republic, as a country that honours international commitments, has always stated that it is the harbour of stability, peace and security, both in the region and the world.”

According to the Iranian Foreign Minister, the Persian Gulf countries should have the only say in determining who gets access to the region’s resources.

Salehi’s comments are in response to U.S. statements that it will not tolerate any obstruction of the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian forces.

Iran’s vice president has been quoted as saying that if Iranian oil is fettered by international sanctions, then Iran will stop the passage of all oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

The strait is used to deliver oil from Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.