US President Barack Obama speaks on energy and the economy following a tour of the Industrial Assessment Center at the University of Miami, Florida, on February 23, 2012.
Source: Press TV
US President Barack Obama has defended his energy policies, blaming rising gas prices on a mix of factors, mainly the Western rows over Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama hit back at Republican attacks on his energy policies and blamed tensions with Iran as the main reason behind rising gas prices.
“Just like last year, the biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East -- this time in Iran,” Obama said Thursday in a visit to the University of Miami.
He also said that other factors including Wall Street speculations as well as hot demand from China, India and other emerging economies have also contributed to mounting gas prices.
"When uncertainty increases, speculative trading on Wall Street can drive up prices even more. So there are short-term factors at work here," Obama said.
"Over the long term, the biggest reason oil prices will rise is growing demand in countries like China, India, and Brazil," he added.
Republicans have made rising gas prices one of their main attack lines against Obama as there is less than nine months before the presidential election.
The US gasoline prices have jumped nearly 9 cents in the past week to an average of USD 3.61 a gallon and are expected to go even higher.
US crude prices have also jumped 9 percent this year, nearing USD 108 a barrel on Thursday, the highest level since May, 2011.
This comes after Iran’s Oil Ministry has announced that it had cut oil exports to British and French firms.
Iran also hinted at the possibility of a halt in oil exports to certain other European countries.
The move came in retaliation for a decision by EU foreign ministers on January 23 to stop oil imports from Iran, freeze the assets of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) within EU states and ban selling diamonds, gold, and other precious metals to Tehran.
The United States, Israel and their European allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to push for international and unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran has rejected the Western publicity that Tehran’s nuclear program may be diverted to military objectives and insisted that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to pursue nuclear technology for its numerous civilian uses and benefits.