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Iran Says It Will Not Rule Out Using Oil as Weapon in Nuclear Standoff


Iran says it will not rule out using oil supplies as a "weapon" if the United States takes military action against Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

Iran's OPEC representative, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, says Iran will not put aside its instrument of oil when the U.S. says it will not rule out military action. Iranian newspaper, Sharq published Ardebili's comments Tuesday.

There have been concerns that Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz, a critical channel for world oil shipments.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. has a strategic interest in making sure the Strait of Hormuz remains an area of free commercial transit.

President Bush repeated Tuesday all options are on the table for dealing with the Iran nuclear issue, but he said he wants to resolve the dispute diplomatically.

Sean McCormack also said the United States and other world powers have begun preliminary talks on a third set of U.N. sanctions related to Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium.

He said he did not know when a new resolution would be introduced in the U.N. Security Council.

Iran denies it is trying to build an atomic weapon, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Meanwhile, Iranian media report the country's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet Saturday to discuss Iran's nuclear program. The talks in Lisbon, Portugal would be a follow-up to a meeting the two men had last month in Madrid, Spain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Bloomberg and Reuters.