President Donald Trump on Tuesday took aim at Saudi Arabia and its refusal to lead an increase in oil production, telling the UN that Opec members were “as usual ripping off the rest of the world”. Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Trump told Opec that the US was “not going to put up with . . . these horrible prices much longer”. His warning came in a speech to the international body in which the US president also urged other countries to help squeeze the regime in Tehran by cutting oil imports from Iran. “I don’t like it, and nobody should like it,” Mr Trump said about Opec. “We defend many of these nations for nothing and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices, not good. We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices, and they must contribute substantially to military protection.”
Mr Trump has repeatedly bashed Opec on Twitter, telling producers to raise output to keep oil prices in check. Higher prices at the pump could hurt Republicans in the midterm elections where the loss of the House or Senate could spark major ramifications for Mr Trump, including a possible push for impeachment. While Mr Trump has pinned the blame on Opec, however, it has been his administration’s antagonistic relationship with Tehran — including the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and subsequent re-imposition of oil export sanctions — that has helped propel crude prices in recent months. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose higher on the comments to a four-year high, up $1.35 a barrel to $82.85. Prices started rising this week after global producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia decided against raising output beyond what countries agreed in June, despite calls from Mr Trump.
Mr Trump also slammed Iran in his speech, saying its leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction,” as he urged other nations to cut imports of Iranian oil to help isolate the regime. He said the US had “launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda”. “We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” Mr Trump told the UN, even though international energy inspectors say that Tehran is living up to the 2015 nuclear deal. “We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.” In remarks later on Tuesday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani accused the US of actively working to overthrow his government and refused any direct talks with the Trump administration.