Are the Saudis Forcing Down Oil Prices to Hurt Iran?

That may be the case according to NBC.

Oil traders and others believe that the Saudi decision to let the price of oil tumble has more to do with Iran than economics.

Their belief has been reinforced in recent days as the Saudi oil minister has steadfastly refused calls for a special meeting of OPEC and announced that the nation is going to increase its production, which will send the price down even farther.

Saudi Oil Minister Ibrahim al-Naimi even said during a recent trip to India that oil prices are headed in the “right direction.”

Not for the Iranians.

Moreover, the traders believe the Saudis are not doing this alone, that the other Sunni-dominated oil producing countries and the U.S. are working together, believing it will hurt majority-Shiite Iran economically and create a domestic crisis for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose popularity at home is on the wane. The traders also believe (with good reason) that the U.S. is trying to tighten the screws on Iran financially at the same time the Saudis are reducing the Islamic Republic’s oil revenues.

For the Saudis, who fear Iran’s religious, geopolitical and nuclear aspirations, the decision to lower the price of oil has a number of benefits, the biggest being to deprive Iran of hard currency. It also may create unrest in a country that is its rival on a number of levels and permits the Saudis to show the U.S. that military action may not be necessary.

It makes sense. Many countries in addition to the US do not want to see a nuclear Iran, including many countries in the Middle East, so hitting Ahmadinejad where it really hurts, which is in oil revenues, could really hamper his nuclear program. Russia and North Korea aren’t going to give Iran technology for free.

Hat tip: RBT

Update: Saudi Arabia may be feeling the pressure to act quickly to hurt Iran because it may be getting close to testing a nuke underground. Spook86 at In from the Cold links to a UK Telegraph report that says NoKo is helping Iran to test a nuke, which could take place by the end of the year.

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