BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein announced Monday that Iraq would cut oil exports for 30 days, or until Israel withdraws from Palestinian territories.
In a nationally televised speech, Saddam said all exports would be cut starting Monday. The oil minister said the move took effect as Saddam spoke.
Saddam said Iraq's top leaders met earlier Monday and decided ``in the name of the people of Iraq ... to stop exporting oil totally as of this afternoon through the pipelines flowing to the Turkish ports and the south for 30 days'' unless Israel withdrew earlier.
He said that if Israel had not withdrawn within the 30 days, Iraq would consider what action to take.
Iraq had called on Arabs last week to cut oil supplies as a way of pressuring the United States to force Israel to end its military incursions into Palestinian territory.
A boycott would be ineffective without Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who have rejected Iraq's call to use oil as a weapon. Many Gulf states depend on oil revenues for more than two-thirds of government income and cannot afford to stop sales.
The last time oil-producing Arab nations used oil as a political weapon was in 1973, when reduced exports caused a global energy crisis. Since then, the world's wealthiest nations have created the International Energy Agency to provide a cushion against any similar disruption.
Based in Paris, the IEA can tap into 4 billion barrels of strategic oil reserves maintained by its member countries. That's equal to more than five years of Iraqi production, based on the IEA's estimate of Iraq's output in January.
In November 2000, Saudi Arabia led the adoption of a pledge by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major exporters that oil would not be used as a political weapon.
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that Islamic countries should stop supplying oil for one month to countries with close relations with Israel.
Libya announced Monday that it supported the call, in a report on its state news agency, JANA.