CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won't intervene in disputes between Western allies and Iran, the Venezuelan oil minister said.
Western allies are putting economic pressure on Iran in response to its controversial nuclear program. Adversaries accuse Iran of working toward a nuclear weapon, though Tehran insists its intentions are peaceful.
Threats by Iran to close oil-shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz pushed oil prices higher as the global economy struggles to emerge from recession. Rafael Ramirez, the oil minister from OPEC member Venezuela, said the cartel wasn't getting involved, however.
"OPEC will not get involved in the issue with Iran," Ramirez was quoted by Iranian broadcaster Press TV as saying. His comments came during a visit to the region by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
OPEC didn't respond during the summer to disruptions to Libyan production brought on by the NATO-led operation there, though the International Energy Agency called on member states to release oil from strategic reserves to offset market disruptions.
Last week, the IEA said it wasn't stepping into the current issue with Iran because there were no current shortages on the market because of the saber-rattling.
Venezuela and Iran are the second- and third-largest oil producers among the 10 OPEC member states.
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