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Iran Says It Can Cut Europe's Energy

Hossein Salami, Deputy Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran could make European countries suffer by cutting off energy supplies and can target any adversary with its missiles, a senior Iranian military official said.

Iran is locked in dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear energy program which Western countries fear is aimed at allowing Iran the chance to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is only interested in electricity.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) governing board meets in Vienna next week to discuss Iran while world powers are deliberating new sanctions on Iran at the level of the U.N. Security Council.

Iran is one of the world's biggest oil and gas exporters but its economy is suffering amid the global financial crisis and international ostracism over the nuclear dispute.

"Iran is standing on 50 percent of the world's energy and should it so decide Europe will have to spend the winter in cold," Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said on February 28 in a meeting with war veterans and volunteers in Kerman, according to Fars news agency.

"Our missiles are now able to target any spot in which the conspirators are in, and the country is making advances in all fields," he said.

Iran has tested a number of missiles in recent years that could be used in any war with its arch enemy Israel. Analysts say Israel could try a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Some European countries have faced difficulties from reliance on gas supplies from Russia, but Iran has struggled to find the cash and technology to develop its energy sector as sanctions and political pressure have kept foreign firms away.

Israel lobbied Washington last week for sanctions against Iran, which imports 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign refineries.