Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves have been used to perpetuate the life of the religious dictatorship ruling that country. Now, the mullahs are brandishing the “oil weapon” in an attempt to blackmail the international community.
Tehran’s top nuclear negotiators boast brazenly that if in the case of referral to the UN Security Council and the imposition of sanctions, they will use their "full national capabilities" against the West. This "full national capabilities" is a clear reference to the use of oil as a weapon.
In reaction to EU’s expressed intention to refer the clerical regime’s nuclear file to the Security Council, Tala’ee Nik, a member of the regime’s parliamentary committee on security, said: "A chaotic oil market and a weak European market will prevent any sanctions against Iran."
During the EU3 meeting in Berlin last week, the state-owned media in Iran repeatedly said that as soon as the Tehran’s nuclear case is referred to the Security Council oil prices will jump to $100 a barrel as Iran is the forth largest oil exporter. Although it might appear to be obvious, but highlighting the issue so frequently indicates the regime’s fear of the world community’s change of attitude and its attempt to pre-empt any move towards a firm policy.
Tehran also warned that the primary loser in an oil embargo will be Western countries, in particular the EU. With this hollow sabre rattling, the regime is hoping to coerce the world to back down and allow it to push forward with its nuclear ambitions.
If the world blinks from imposing sanctions for defiance now, the regime’s leaders might conclude that their oil threat will deter real penalties at each future step in the confrontation.
That’s a formula for disaster. As U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana put it, "If we knuckle under" to oil blackmail today, "tomorrow it could be nuclear-weapons-based blackmail, and that is a place we cannot allow ourselves to go."
Withholding its oil supplies would be painful for the regime: Oil accounts for about 80% of its exports and about half of its government revenue.
In face of the mullahs’ blackmail, especially now that its deceptive policies have led to the present impasse, the following three points ought to be noted:
1. In principle, giving in to blackmail is wrong and unacceptable. The theocratic dictatorship ruling Iran must be made to understand that any form of blackmail such as hostage taking, terrorism and use of oil as a weapon are totally and decisively rejected.
2. Giving in to the regime’s blackmail will only embolden it to demand more concessions. The experience of the past two years is clear proof of the failure of appeasement. If the mullahs succeed in their blackmail now, there will be no limit to their demands when they possess nuclear weapons.
3. Despite its blackmail, the regime needs to export oil as this has helped it to prolong its suppressive rule, and to spread insecurity to the region and world.
In view of this, the only appropriate approach to the problem in Iran is firmness. The clerical regime should know that they cannot take the world hostage in their desire to establish an Islamic empire of medieval fundamentalists.