Iranian president says oil prices haven't yet reached true value

Wading into oil politics for the first time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said crude oil prices now at record levels still were below their true value.

"The global oil price has not reached its real value yet. The products derived from crude oil are sold at prices dozens of times higher than those charged by oil producing countries," state-run Tehran radion quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

The hard-line Iranian leader, who is embroiled with the West and the United Nations over Tehran's nuclear program, also said developed countries were benefiting most from high oil prices.

"The developed nations are the biggest beneficiary of the added value" of oil products," Ahmadinejad said in comments likely to rattle world oil markets.

He stopped short of saying Iran would use oil as a weapon, a tactic much feared by his antagonists on the nuclear issue, nor did he say what oil prices should be.

Oil futures Wednesday continued to hover just under US$71 (Ђ57.51) a barrel.

"The products derived from crude oil cost over ten times the price of oil sold by producing states. Developed and powerful countries benefit more from its value-added than any party," he said.

Ahmadinejad said that oil prices should be determined on the basis of market supply and demand.

"Oil is the major asset of nations possessing it, its price should not be lowered on the pretext that it will prove harmful to developing states, thus permitting the world powers to benefit the most from it," he said.

George Orwel, an analyst at the New York-based Petroleum Intelligence Weekly said he thought Ahmadinejad was not serious but playing the oil card to resist pressure over his nuclear program, reports AP.

O.Ch.