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Exclusive: Iran slams U.S. for seeking Saudi oil output hike, says OPEC won't comply

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) - said on Friday a U.S. request for Arabia to pump more so that it could cover a drop in Iranian exports was "crazy and astonishing" and said OPEC would not heed the appeal, setting the stage for a tough OPEC meeting this month.

Iran, Arabia's arch-rival, has a history of raising challenges in OPEC meetings. In 2015, refused to sign up to OPEC policies, saying it needed to hike output due to the easing of sanctions after a nuclear accord with world powers.

U.S. pulled out of that nuclear deal last month and announced the "highest level" of sanctions against Iran, the biggest in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after Arabia and

"It's crazy and astonishing to see instruction coming from to Saudi to act and replace a shortfall of Iran's export due to their Illegal sanction on and Venezuela," Iran's OPEC Ardebili told

U.S. said in April prices were artificially high because of OPEC.

The had also unofficially asked and some other OPEC producers to raise output a day before slapped new sanctions on

In the previous round of sanctions against Tehran, in which the had taken part, Iranian exports plummeted by more than half to below 1 million barrels per day.

The EU is not planning to join sanctions this time and has called on the to give its companies waivers so they can continue doing business with

But many European companies are already severing ties with Tehran for fear of facing secondary sanctions from the United States, which could mean losing access to the U.S. dollar clearing system.

The U.S. sanctions on Iran's petroleum industry will take effect after a 180-day "wind-down period" ending on Nov. 4 but many European refiners are already winding down Iranian

has called on OPEC to discuss what it called "illegal" sanctions at the next meeting on June 22, which is due to debate production policies.

OPEC and its allies led by have cut a combined 1.8 million barrels per day of output since January 2017 and the cuts are due to expire at the end of 2018.

However, Saudi Arabia and have said cuts could be eased after receiving calls from consumers including the United States, and to support global demand.

Iran's Kazempour predicted OPEC would not heed the U.S. request and said would jump in response to Washington's sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, as they did during a previous round of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

"No one in OPEC will act against two of its founder members," he said. "The U.S. tried it last time against Iran, but got to $140 a barrel."OPEC, founded in 1960, has a history of collaboration over despite differences of opinion and even wars between some members over the years.Kazempour said the group would unite in opposition to the U.S. request.

"OPEC will not accept such a humiliation. How arrogant and ignorant one could be (to) underestimate the history of 60 years' cooperation among competitors," he said."We have to live together - we cannot change geography but we must build better history," he said.

(Reporting by Alex Lawler; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by and Edmund Blair)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 18:09 IST