Apr 21, 2010

Tun Mahathir says Iran is important to us

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said Petronas has the right to supply gasoline to Iran saying that the Gulf nation is an important trading partner .

“Initially when I read the report that Datuk Seri Najib had ordered Petronas to stop supplying gasoline to Iran I couldn’t understand it because Iran has a lot of gasoline, so I was disappointed,” said Dr Mahathir when asked about the suspension of Malaysia’s gasoline supply to Iran.

“But later Datuk Seri Najib denied that he had ordered the cancellation and he said it was purely a commercial deal. So it is Petronas’ right to sell to anybody,” he said at a press conference here.

Late last week, foreign news agencies reported the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak confirming that the national oil company has stopped supplying gasoline to Iran ahead of further global sanctions.

Najib denied the report a day later saying that the transaction was a one-off sale and there has been no new order.

His denial was followed by a statement from Petronas which stated that the decisions regarding the sales were based purely on commercial reasons.

Iran currently imports 40 per cent of its gasoline supplies due to the drop in investment in petroleum refineries in that country.

When it was pointed out that Iran is facing possible international sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme, Dr Mahathir dismissed it as another example of the oppressive foreign policy of the United States.

“The international sanctions is an American job. A lot of countries do not approve of the sanctions. China is still trading with Iran and so is Russia. If it is ‘international’ [then] all countries would have to adhere to it,” said Dr Mahathir.

“This is how America oppresses the others. If people die, like the sanction if Iraq where 500,000 children died, they said it’s alright. This was what Madeline Albright said,” he added referring to the former Secretary of State in the late 1990s.

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