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Iraq warns of 'super power' oil threat

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein: Warning to OPEC  

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- President Saddam Hussein has warned fellow OPEC member states against pressure mounted by "superpowers" on producers to bring down soaring oil prices.

"The superpowers will fasten the grip on oil producing countries," the Iraqi press quoted Saddam as telling a cabinet meeting.

Saddam accused superpowers, a clear reference to the United States and other Western nations, of using the issue of oil prices against producing countries.

"The amount of oil they (superpowers) need has started to alarm them to an extend that they do not want to say how much. That means there is concern over the amount of oil existing in the world," he said.

Saddam said the current peak in world oil prices was a natural result of increasing demand.

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He also said OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia would not be able to meet booming world demand.

"Although Saudi Arabia has the ability to pump more oil it cannot meet world demand in a manner that can address the world's fear of an oil shortage," he said.

Saddam made no mention of Iraq's recent accusation against Kuwait that it was stealing Iraqi oil.

The Iraqi charges were seen by the U.S. and the West as repeating the accusations that preceded the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, leading to the 1991 Gulf War.

Oil prices were a touch softer Monday as Hurricane Gordon missed oilfields in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and OPEC reiterated that it could bump up world supplies again before its November meeting.

But despite the retreat, oil remains just below 10-year peaks as traders remained concerned by the heightening of Iraq/Kuwait tension.

Iraq, whose exports are supervised by the United Nations, has not played a part in OPEC output policy since 1990. OPEC has increased output by 3.2 million barrels per day this year in an attempt to bring down soaring prices.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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