Iran raps US envoy’s meetings with OPEC members as ‘unprofessional, meddlesome’
The Iranian oil minister has lashed out at US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook over his “meddlesome” meetings with members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, asserting that OPEC is an independent body that does not take orders from the US.
According to Press TV, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh made the remarks in reaction to Hook’s Wednesday meeting with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih one day before OPEC’s 175th meeting in Vienna.
“If Mr. Hook has come to Vienna to apply for US membership in OPEC, and this is the reason why he meets OPEC members, the request can be reviewed,” Zanganeh said.
Otherwise, he added, the US official has adopted an unprofessional, naïve, and meddlesome approach.
“OPEC is an independent organization, not a part of the US Department of Energy to take orders from Washington,” said Zanganeh, who arrived in Vienna late Wednesday to attend the OPEC talks on Thursday and Friday.
Hook's meeting with the Saudi official came after Riyadh indicated a need for steep reductions in output from January. However, it has come under pressure from US President Donald Trump, who has urged Riyadh to refrain from output cuts in order to keep oil prices low.
OPEC members will meet on Thursday and hold talks with allies such as Russia on Friday. The meetings are expected to be focused on a deal to reduce output.
Upon arrival at Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, Zanganeh told reporters that Iran has always supported OPEC and its decisions for the stabilization of the market, but at this juncture, "Iran will not join any deal on production level as long as the [US] sanctions are in place."
The Islamic Republic must be exempted from any future decision on oil production levels between OPEC member states and the countries which are not part of the body, until the US bans are lifted, he reiterated.
"There are many offers on oil production cut, and those members who want to reduce their oil output should make the decision," Zanganeh said.
He also noted that Iran will not join the Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), which is monitoring the implementation of the oil output cut deal and issues recommendations for changing its conditions.
The JMMC acted beyond its mandate during the past 12 months, Zanganeh said, noting that the existence of the committee was unnecessary. He also emphasized that the committee should act in line with its mandate.
The minister also pointed to the recent fluctuations in the global oil prices caused by certain OPEC and non-OPEC members’ output rise, and said the desirable oil price for Iran is between $60 and $70.